& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


SOE Heroines

The Special Operations Executive’s  French Section & Free French Women Agents


Bernard O’Connor


Amberley, March 2018

O’Connor is clearly very knowledgeable about SOE, having written several other books around this subject. However I am slightly mystified why he chose this sub-set of SOE’s operations for this volume. As he acknowledges on page 9 he does not speak or write fluent French, and has not contacted the families of the agents covered. His modus operandi is to quote large chunks of other sources: at its peak this means that one reads the whole debriefing report of Odette verbatim, for example. This is beyond odd.


There is far too much duplication in the narrative; we are told repeatedly how the Tempsford Lysander flights worked. The book could have usefully been much shorter. French words and place names are misspelt. The amazing Forest Yeo-Thomas is described as a “flight officer”, instead of, presumably, a flying officer (he rose to the rank of Wing Commander).


Any book covering this topic cannot fail to relate tales of extraordinary heroism, and loyalty to the cause. O’Connor also describes some agents who are also touchingly naïve and  romantic.  


Overall not a compelling volume.