'An amateur learns his job'? Special operations executive in Portugal, 1940-42



Wylie N (2001) 'An amateur learns his job'? Special operations executive in Portugal, 1940-42. Journal of Contemporary History, 36 (3), pp. 441-457.

During the first years of its existence, Special Operations Executive looked to neutral Europe as an area in which it could deploy its limited resources against German interests with a reasonable chance of success. By early 1942, however, it was clear that neutral Europe had failed to live up to SOE's expectations. Most of SOE's plans had either been aborted or cancelled. This article examines SOE's work in Portugal between early 1941 and summer 1942. During this period, SOE not only failed to achieve any of its objectives but also suffered the indignity of having its station in Lisbon exposed by the Portuguese and was ultimately forced to withdraw its officer from the country. The article argues that SOE's lack of success was due not so much to the practical difficulties it encountered in the field, or even the opposition of other departments in Whitehall, which did so much to blight its operations elsewhere in Europe, but to its failure to create a sustainable role within British political and military policies towards Portugal.

Journal of Contemporary History: Volume 36, Issue 3

FundersUniversity of Nottingham
Publication date31/07/2001
Publication date online01/07/2001

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Professor Neville Wylie

Professor Neville Wylie

Deputy Principal