The Special Operations Executive, created in the summer of 1940 at Churchill’s behest, was designed to operate behind enemy lines and cause mayhem to the enemy largely through sabotage operations and fomenting resistance.
Any agents dropped into occupied countries had to be very thoroughly trained and this included putting them through a series of initial entrance tests designed to swiftly whittle out those not able to reach SOE’s exacting standards. SOE training was the subject of a highly acclaimed recent BBC television series, in which a group of contemporary men and women were taken through the original wartime course.
Drawing on the knowledge and experience of several of those involved in making the TV series, we shall be setting up our own SOE training camp, and the public will have a chance to face three challenges from the original training programme: in a tented classroom with wartime aptitude tests, with an unarmed combat course, and with our reconstruction of the assault course.
Overseeing SOE training will be Adrian Weale, both historian and current British Army officer and who played course commander in the BBC’s reality TV show, Secret Agent. He will be joined by several of those who were put through the training course for the series.