Special Operations Executive (1940-1946)

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The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a British World War II organisation. Following Cabinet approval, it was officially formed by Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements.It was initially also involved in the formation of the Auxiliary Units, a top secret "stay-behind" resistance organisation which would have been activated in the event of a German invasion of Britain.Few people were aware of SOE's existence. To those who were part of it or liaised with it, it was sometimes referred to as "the Baker Street Irregulars", after the location of its London headquarters. It was also known as "Churchill's Secret Army" or the "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare". For security purposes, various branches, and sometimes the organisation as a whole, were concealed behind names such as the "Joint Technical Board" or the "Inter-Service Research Bureau", or fictitious branches of the Air Ministry, Admiralty or War Office.SOE operated in all countries or former countries occupied by or attacked by the Axis forces, except where demarcation lines were agreed with Britain's principal allies (the Soviet Union and the United States). It also made use of neutral territory on occasion, or made plans and preparations in case neutral countries were attacked by the Axis. The organisation directly employed or controlled just over 13,000 people, about 3,200 of whom were women. It is estimated that SOE supported or supplied about 1,000,000 operatives worldwide.[citation needed]After the war, the organisation was officially dissolved on 15 January 1946. A memorial to SOE's agents was unveiled in London in October 2009. It is situated on the Albert Embankment by Lambeth Palace.

Source: dbpedia

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