SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE (SOE)
Moderated by CBC’s Award Winning Journalist Nahlah Ayed
Today, hundreds of thousands of young people are responding to a global crisis – that of climate change and ecological collapse.
In the 1930s, the world also faced a global crisis – the rise of militant imperialist and racist ideologies, in particular the rise of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan.
Then, in World War 2, in the 1940s, hundreds of young men and women – including Canadians – became secret underground agents and risked their lives to defend freedom in Europe and in the world from Nazi racism and tyranny.
They were parachuted into Nazi-occupied territory or ferried in by secret aircraft or boats. They had to move, disguised, and always hunted in hostile villages, towns, and cities. They had to trust people they had never met. Sometimes their trust was betrayed. Discovery meant hideous torture and almost certain death.
Their mission was to link up with resistance groups in occupied countries – in the beginning above all in France – and supply these groups with money, weapons, explosives, radios and communications, and leadership and guidance.
The aim was to wreck Nazi communications and transport links and to block movements of war material to Nazi Germany and frustrate and block the movement of German troops and, in particular, the movement of the dreaded Panzer – or armored – Divisions.
So, they blew up railway tracks, railway yards, and trains, sabotaged canals and munitions factories, destroyed telephone lines and telegraph lines, and truck convoys. And, everywhere, they were hunted in a deadly non-stop game of cat and mouse.
This is the story we will tell – the story of the Special Operations Executive – the SOE – and Camp X in Whitby-Oshawa, one of its key training camps – and of the young men and women who sacrificed their lives for a future of freedom.
SOE became the model for the CIA and the inspiration for many post-war writers including Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.
A historical documentary on the SOE by Executive Producer Peter Williamson is available to view compliments of the King & Empire Foundation which is dedicated to promoting knowledge of Canadian history. Peter Williamson is the Founding Director of the King & Empire Foundation.