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Mission Accomplished

SOE in Italy 1943-1945

by Stafford , David

Commissioned by the Cabinet Office, Mission Accomplished is the official history of the Special Operations Executive in Italy 1943-1945 and the first ever complete account of this story between the Allied landings at Salerno and the end of the war.

SOE contributed significantly to the final political and military liberation of Italy from Nazism and Fascism by the Allied armies in May 1945 by giving extensive material support to the Italian resistance. This, as Churchill wrote in his History of the Second World War, ‘was created in a cruel atmosphere of civil strife, assassinations, and executions,’ and it makes for a story of considerable intrigue, interest, and excitement. Yet compared to the story of its activities in France, SOE’s achievements in Italy have remained almost unknown over the sixty years that have passed since Britain’s wartime Prime Minister wrote these words.

Written in accessible style for a popular market, the book is based on full access to all the recently released files, documents retrieved from other secret agencies, diaries, letters, memoirs, personal interviews and some rare Italian material. It provides the first ever narrative account of SOE operations in Italy, demonstrates how SOE worked closely with the Italian partisans as well as elements of the Royalist government, discusses the part played by SOE officers and their missions in the liberation of such major cities as Milan, Turn, and Genoa, reveals how after having had its networks penetrated by SIM, the Italian military intelligence service, SOE began to work alongside it, explore various controversial claims about Britain’s secret wartime role in Italy such as the theory that SOE was behind the killing of Mussolini, and it narrates the extraordinary and heroic individual missions of the many secret agents despatched to work with the partisans.

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Comments

"  Although this is an official history commissioned by the Cabinet Office, it is written with a light touch and Stafford is unafraid to give his own opinions...Particularly fascinating is the cloak-and-dagger coordination with SOE bases in Switzerland and Corsica...The role of No 1 Special Force was over – and is now belatedly and splendidly chronicled."


Reviews: Literary Review

"... offers readers a sound judgment of SOE's contribution to the liberation of Italy and a gripping account of Britain's secret war in Italy...Stafford vividly describes these missions with striking detail and telling quotes."


Reviews: BBC History Magazine

"I much admired David Stafford's previous book, Endgame 1945 and Mission Accomplished, an official history commissioned by the Cabinet Office, exhibits the same elements of a lucid, flowing narrative combined with acute observations about the varied personalities involved...The mission was something of which both Britons and Italians can be rightly proud and Stafford does it full justice."


Reviews: Daily Express

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