SHADOW WARRIORS OF WORLD WAR II

The Daring Women of the OSS and SOE

Gordon Thomas & Greg Lewis

I hate wars and violence, but if they come then I don’t see why we women should just wave a proud good-bye and then knit them balaclavas. —Nancy Wake, SOE agent

“I discovered how easy it was to make highly trained, professionally closemouthed patriots give away their secrets in bed.” —Betty Pack, agent with the British Secret Intelligence Service and the Office of Strategic Services

In a dramatically different tale of espionage and conspiracy in World War II, Shadow Warriors of World War II unveils the history of the courageous women who volunteered to work behind enemy lines.

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I hate wars and violence, but if they come then I don’t see why we women should just wave a proud good-bye and then knit them balaclavas. —Nancy Wake, SOE agent

“I discovered how easy it was to make highly trained, professionally closemouthed patriots give away their secrets in bed.” —Betty Pack, agent with the British Secret Intelligence Service and the Office of Strategic Services

In a dramatically different tale of espionage and conspiracy in World War II, Shadow Warriors of World War II unveils the history of the courageous women who volunteered to work behind enemy lines.

Sent into Nazi-occupied Europe by the United States’ Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), these women helped establish a web of resistance groups across the continent. Their heroism, initiative, and resourcefulness contributed to the Allied breakout of the Normandy beachheads and even infiltrated Nazi Germany at the height of the war, into the very heart of Hitler’s citadel—Berlin. Young and daring, the female agents accepted that they could be captured, tortured, or killed, but others were always ready to take their place. Women of enormous cunning and strength of will, the Shadow Warriors’ stories have remained largely untold until now.

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  • Chicago Review Press
  • Hardcover
  • January 2017
  • 304 Pages
  • 9781613730867

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About Gordon Thomas & Greg Lewis

Gordon Thomas is the author of Gideon’s Spies and Operation Exodus, and the recipient of two Mark Twain Society Awards, an Edgar Award, and the Citizens Commission for Human Rights Lifetime Achievement Award for Investigative Journalism.

Greg Lewis is a journalist, BAFTA–award-winning–producer, and author of several books, including A Bullet Saved My Life and The Death of Justice.

Discussion Questions

1. Shadow Warriors describes how in World War II women were trained as spies on a large scale for the first time. What advantages did the Allied intelligence services believe female agents had over men?

2. Betty Pack used her sexuality to gain men’s trust and obtain information for the British and Americans. Discuss how she viewed espionage and extra marital affairs. In what ways did she see both deceptions as the same? In what ways did she see her way of spying as different from those who carried a gun?

3. Wireless operator Yvonne Cormeau learned that she should not wear a watch while posing as a farmer’s wife, as French peasants did not wear one. What else did the women learn about disguising themselves behind enemy lines?

4. Virginia Hall was one of the Allies’ most successful agents in occupied France, even though she had lost part of her leg in an accident before the war. How did she did use her work as a journalist to help her as a spy? What changed for her after America entered the war?

5. Why was life for a female wireless operator particularly dangerous? What did people like Yvonne Cormeau do to reduce their chances of capture?

6. When Elizabeth Devereaux Rochester arrived in France she appealed for weapons to be sent to the French resistance. British intelligence immediately picked her to return to occupied France and she was delighted. Why do you think this was? Why do you think she was eager to return? Why do you think SOE officers were reluctant to believe that some of their radio operators had been captured?

7. As the intelligence networks grew and more agents arrived in France security became more difficult. Why was that?

8. Odette Sansom felt a fear that “anything could happen at anytime.” What were the most difficult things about spying behind enemy lines? How would you cope with leading a double life?

9. When Pearl Witherington was offered a medal for civilian work she returned it. She said her work was of a “purely military nature.” What do you think about the way the women were treated by the authorities after the war?