Women in Intelligence

The Hidden History of Two World Wars

Dr Helen Fry has trawled through a raft of recently declassified files for this new book about the thousands of women involved in wartime espionage, Special Operations Executive (SOE) and codebreaking. It’s yet another fascinating volume by the author of Churchill’s German Army, Spymaster, The Walls have Ears and MI9.

The book starts with the women who joined spy networks carrying information out of France and Belgium during World War One, debunking the myth that they were all femme fatales like Mata Hari. It was more likely that knitted garments containing secret codes were flung over border fences or worn by female agents travelling back to Britain. Paper messages were hidden in shoe heels and loaves of bread, while rail networks and troop movements in Belgium were monitored by women. Fry also says newly released documents reveal that heroic British nurse Edith Cavell was not only a spy, but was the founder of an entire espionage network.

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers