Churchill's Secret Army - World War II

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II organisation. Following en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_the_United_Kingdom approval, it was officially formed by en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Economic_Warfare en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espionage,en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabota and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconnaissance in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupied_Europe against the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_powers, and to aid local en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistance_during_World_War_II.

It was initially also involved in the formation of the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auxiliary_Units, a top secret "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stay-behind"; resistance organisation which would have been activated in the event of a en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sealion.

Few people were aware of SOE's existence. To those who were part of it or liaised with it, it was sometimes referred to as "the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_Street_Irregulars";, after the location of its London headquarters. It was also known as "Churchill's Secret Army" or the "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare". For security purposes, various branches, and sometimes the organisation as a whole, were concealed behind names such as the "Joint Technical Board" or the "Inter-Service Research Bureau", or fictitious branches of the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Ministry, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Admiralty or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Office.

SOE operated in all countries or former countries occupied by or attacked by the Axis forces, except where demarcation lines were agreed with Britain's principal allies (the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Union and the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States). It also made use of neutral territory on occasion, or made plans and preparations in case neutral countries were attacked by the Axis. The organisation directly employed or controlled just over 13,000 people, about 3,200 of whom were women. It is estimated that SOE supported or supplied about 1,000,000 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_SOE_agents worldwide.

After the war, the organisation was officially dissolved on 15 January 1946. A memorial to SOE's agents was unveiled in London in October 2009. It is situated on the Albert Embankment by Lambeth Palace.