SOE in the Low Countries
- M. R. D. Foot
- Introduction by Nigel West
15th September 2017
SOE’s Belgian and Dutch operations in the Second World War have always been considered highly controversial because of the notorious Englandspiel (‘the English game’) run by the Germans, which effectively took control of the entire resistance organisation in Holland. Skilfully manipulated by Colonel Hermann Giskes, the occupying force arrested dozens of Dutch agents and operated their wireless sets with sufficient finesse to persuade SOE’s headquarters in London that their networks were operating without interference. In reality, each consignment of agents and equipment fell directly into the hands of the Nazis.
Was there a traitor in London? Was it incompetence in the field or hopelessly inadequate security procedures? The Belgian experience, equally complicated, was for a time almost as disastrous as the Dutch. Opinions have differed, but here the official records are opened for independent scrutiny by an acknowledged specialist in SOE’s operations. The story that emerges is a harrowing catalogue of Whitehall jealousies and infighting, blunders and ineptitude, combined with breathtaking bravery on the part of the agents who were captured.