During the evening, Dr Vigurs will provide a unique insight into the Special Operations Executive (SOE) with a focus on the extraordinary women who served in the French section (SOE F). During the Second World War, the SOE operated behind enemy lines and was instrumental in communicating intelligence and coordinating resistance networks to allies.
Ranging from housewives to grandmothers, shop assistants to princesses, only thirty nine women completed the rigorous SOE training programme. They were taught silent killing skills, instinctive shooting methods, sabotage techniques as well as survival tactics for life in Nazi-occupied France. Dr Vigurs will explore how SOE F women infiltrated behind enemy lines to work as couriers and wireless operators, operating undercover and far beyond the protection of the Geneva Convention.
Their life expectancy was short, sometimes a mere six weeks, but these women worked hard and fought hard, often living in solitude with no support, travelling hundreds of kilometres carrying vital yet incriminating information, and risking everything to make contact with SOE Headquarters over the radio waves. Drawing on archived material and interviews Dr Vigurs will share her exclusive findings, illustrating the operational lives of several brave agents and their roles in the SOE, their suitability for such intricate and secretive work and in some cases, detailing their fate at the hands of the enemy.