The Women of SOE

Female Agents and the French Resistance

  • Discover the former SOE headquarters in Baker Street and learn about its history
  • Meet friends and family of the brave women of the SOE at signifi cant sites connected to their stories
  • Travel alongside award-winning author, Clare Mulley, an expert on this tour’s subject

Churchill famously launched SOE, the secretive Special Operations Executive, in June 1940, with his rousing injunction to ‘set Europe ablaze’. The first agent was dropped into France the next year and over 400 would follow, 39 of whom were women. Their role was to support local resistance with the supply of arms and explosives, expertise and radio communications, and prepare for the Allied liberation. 91 of the men, and 13 women, would not return. From 1943, there was increasing demand for female agents to act as couriers and wireless transmitters in France, where their movements were less conspicuous. Three would be awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian decoration. One was Noor Inayat Khan, a Sufi Princess, who, for a while in 1944, provided the only wireless communications with Paris. We will discover where she was arrested, before visiting the infamous Avenue Foch - Gestapo HQ - where she was interrogated, before being sent to her death. Pearl Witherington initially served as a courier in Valencay, our last destination. When her circuit leader was captured, Pearl stepped up to command over 2,000 men. When, as a woman, she was offered civil rather than military honours, Pearl commented there had been nothing remotely ‘civil’ about her work. The dramatic and often tragic stories of female agents in France have attracted huge interest and this tour tells their brave story.

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager & Guide Lecturer
  2. Meals - Most meals included
  3. Transport - All local travel and return Eurostar
  4. Hand-picked hotels throughout the tour