Behind Enemy Lines

Gender, passing and the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War

Juliette Pattinson
Search for other papers by Juliette Pattinson in
Current site
Google Scholar

This book is about the extraordinary experiences of ordinary men and women like Wake who were recruited and trained by a British organisation and infiltrated into France to encourage sabotage and subversion during the Second World War. It draws upon personal testimonies, in particular oral history and autobiography, as well as official records and film to examine how these law-abiding civilians were transformed into paramilitary secret agents. The book is concerned with the ways in which the Special Operations Executive (SOE) veterans reconstruct their wartime experiences of recruitment, training, clandestine work and for some their captivity, focusing specifically upon the significance of gender and their attempts to pass as French civilians. Analysis of the training scenes in the film, which is based on the experiences of real-life agent Violette Szabo, provides an interesting opportunity to examine the filmic representation of the treatment of female students by SOE instructors. By analysing the impact that participating in clandestine warfare has upon notions of masculinity and femininity, it is hoped that the book extends the debate about wartime gender relations. The book serves as an epilogue by recording the experiences of agents following demobilisation from the organisation. It also examines how the SOE men and women, trained in unarmed combat and silent killing techniques, who had operated behind enemy lines under penalty of death and who may also have experienced captivity, fitted back into civilian life.

Abstract only
Log-in for full text
  • Collapse
  • Expand

    • Full book download (HTML)
    • Full book download (PDF with hyperlinks)
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1442 275 9
Full Text Views 1122 174 11
PDF Downloads 714 240 10