The next Upper House Seminar by Professor Richard Clogg.
Participation either in-person at the Upper House of the BSA in Athens, or via online webinar.
SOE, the Special Operations Executive, was established in July 1940 when Britain’s fortunes, following the Dunkirk evacuation, were at their lowest ebb. It is sometimes suggested that Britain at this juncture stood alone against the might of the Axis but Britain was able to call on the resources of the British Empire, although these were widely scattered throughout the world. Greece would soon become the only other European country continuing to resist the Axis. SOE was given the mandate of promoting irregular warfare, sabotage and support for resistance movements and Winston Churchill famously enjoined the new organization to set Europe ablaze. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 the United States entered the war and in July 1942 the OSS (the Office of Strategic Services) was established. In addition to SOE’s paramilitary objectives, the OSS was charged with gathering intelligence and with political warfare. Both attracted in full measure the hostility of the established military, diplomatic and, in the British case, intelligence operations. In their Greek operations both organizations recruited widely among archaeologists and classicists who had the requisite linguistic and topographical knowledge. Both the SOE and the OSS were temporary wartime creations which were wound up at the war’s end. Co-operation at a lower level between the two organizations was often good but at a higher level OSS encountered difficulties in establishing itself in Greece in the face of British opposition. The friction that from the beginning developed between SOE and OSS over operations in Greece continued until the end of the German occupation.