From the bestselling author of Americans in Paris and The Deserters, the untold story of Britain's Special Operations Executive, one of World War II's most important secret fighting forces As far as the public knew, Britain's Special Operations Executive did not exist. After the defeat of the... show more
From the bestselling author of Americans in Paris and The Deserters, the untold story of Britain's Special Operations Executive, one of World War II's most important secret fighting forces
As far as the public knew, Britain's Special Operations Executive did not exist. After the defeat of the French Army, Prime Minister Winston Churchill created the top-secret espionage operation to "set Europe ablaze," and the SOE remained below the radar until the end of World War II. The agents infiltrated Nazi-occupied France, parachuting behind enemy lines and hiding in plain sight, quietly but forcefully recruiting, training, and arming the local French resistants willing to aid in sabotage of the German war machine. The SOE would not only change the course of the war, but the very nature of combat itself. Of the many brave men and women conscripted, two Anglo-American recruits, the Starr brothers, stood out to become legendary figures to the guerillas, assassins, and saboteurs they led.
While both brothers were sent across the channel to organize against the Germans, their fates in war could hardly have been more different. Captain George Starr commanded networks of resistants in southwest France, cutting German communications, destroying weapons factories, and delaying the arrival of Nazi troops to Normandy by seventeen days after D-Day. Younger brother Lieutenant John Starr laid groundwork for resistance in the Burgundy countryside until he was betrayed, captured, tortured and imprisoned at Gestapo headquarters and forced labor camps. Feats of boldness and bravado were many, but appalling scandals, including George's supposed torture and execution of Nazis prisoners, and John's alleged collaboration with his German captors, overshadowed them all. At the war's end, Britain, France, and the United States awarded both brothers medals for heroism, and George would become one of only three among thousands of SOE operatives to achieve the rank of colonel. Yet, their battle honors did little to allay post-war allegations against them, and when they returned to England, their government accused both brothers of war crimes.
Here, for the first time, is the story of one of the last secret organizations of World War II, and of two brothers whose ordeals during and after the war challenged the accepted myths of Britain's wartime resistance in occupied France. Written with complete and unrivaled access to only recently declassified documents from Britain's SOE, family letters, diaries, and court records, along with interviews from surviving wartime Resistance fighters, They Fought Alone is a real-life thriller. Renowned journalist and war correspondent Charles Glass exposes a dramatic tale of spies, sabotage, and the daring men and women who risked everything to change the course of World War II.