Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Churchill and Stalin secretly agreed that Britain would infiltrate Soviet agents into occupied Western Europe. Liaison began between the NKVD and the SOE, each country’s secret service.
Transported in convoys across the Arctic Ocean and often attacked by German U-Boats, thirty-four men and women arrived in Scotland. To stop people finding out that Britain was helping the Communists, the agents were given false identities and provided with accommodation and training at remote country houses in southern England, including Beaulieu.
Codenamed PICKAXES, they were sent for parachute practice at Ringway aerodrome, provided with documents, cover stories and wireless sets and sent on clandestine missions into France, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Germany and Italy. Whilst most were sent from RAF Tempsford, Churchill’s Most Secret airfield, one was sent by boat across the Channel and another by submarine into Northern Italy.
Only a few survived the war as most were caught, interrogated and executed. Based on extensive research, Bernard O’Connor tells their human stories enmeshed in a web of political intrigue and diplomacy.
||234 x 156 mm
||15 June 2012
||20 black and white photographs
Born and brought up in the industrial north-east of England, Bernard O’Connor went on to teach Humanities and English in Taiwan, China and Australia. Now living near Cambridge, UK, he has researched and published widely on the social, economic, environmental and archaeological impact of the nineteenth century coprolite industry, the geology, archaeology and history of the Mawddach estuary in North Wales and his local area on the border of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.
Much in demand as a public speaker, his most recent publications have been RAF Tempsford: Churchill’s most Secret Airfield and Women of RAF Tempsford: Churchill’s Agents of Wartime resistance.