chapter  4
14 Pages

Churchill and SOE: David Stafford


In the spring of 1942, the best selling wartime English-language parable of European resistance, John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down, was published in Britain. One of its most eager readers was Winston Churchill. The novel tells the story of a small town overrun by foreign occupiers. At first peaceful, the troops turn violent when they encounter resistance. The mayor is taken hostage, then shot. Young men flee across the sea to Britain. ‘Let British bombers drop big bombs on factories’, the mayor pleads before they leave, ‘but let them also drop us little bombs to use, to hide, to slip under the rails, under tanks. Then we will be armed, secretly armed.’ A few weeks later British planes drop thousands of small explosive devices by parachute, which the town’s population collect and hide away like so many Easter eggs.1