chapter  7
8 Pages

SOE in the Low Countries: M. R. D. Foot


For a generation after the war, what SOE had done wrong in Holland was a set text in all the world’s spy schools: how not to do it. It then turned out that what the Abwehr (working for once in collaboration with the Sicherheitsdienst) had done for 18 months to SOE – collecting all their agents as they arrived, nearly 50 of them – had been done by MI5 against the Abwehr, on a still grosser scale, all through the war. Every single agent the Germans sent to wartime England, bar one, was captured; most agreed to change sides; those who did not were tried and hanged. The one exception committed suicide before he started work. Masterman’s matchless account of exactly how this sort of thing is done emphasizes the incessant attention that it needs at the deceiving end.1 Technically the German achievement was remarkable; MI5’s success even more so.