Behind enemy lines: Gender, passing and the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War

J.S. Pattinson

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Behind enemy lines is an examination of gender relations in wartime using the Special Operations Executive as a case study. Drawing on personal testimonies, in particular oral history and autobiography, as well as official records and film, it explores the extraordinary experiences of male and female agents who were recruited and trained by a British organisation and infiltrated into Nazi-Occupied France to encourage sabotage and subversion during the Second World War.

With its original interpretation of a wealth of primary sources, it examines how these ordinary, law-abiding civilians were transformed into para-military secret agents, equipped with silent killing techniques and trained in unarmed combat. This fascinating, timely and engaging book is concerned with the ways in which the SOE veterans reconstruct their wartime experiences of recruitment, training, clandestine work and for some, their captivity, focusing specifically upon the significance of gender and their attempts to pass as French civilians.

This examination of the agents of an officially-sponsored insurgent organisation makes a major contribution to British socio-cultural history, war studies and gender studies and will appeal to both the general reader, as well as to those in the academic community.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages256
ISBN (Print)0719075696
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007


  • World War II
  • second world war
  • British history
  • Special Operations Executive


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