Western Europe 1939-1945: Resistance & SOE

What was the role of Special Operations Executive and what kind of people worked for it?

These document extracts relate to the citation of SOE agent Christine Granville. A citation was a statement recommending a person for a medal for bravery

Catalogue ref: HS 9/612

Extract a

Citation for Christine Granville; HS 9/612

Extract b

Citation for Christine Granville; HS 9/612

Extract c

Citation for Christine Granville; HS 9/612

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What is this source?

These documents come from the personal file of SOE agent, Christine Granville. The extracts are part of her citation, a document recommending the award of a medal for her work in the war. You can also find her photograph in the source box.

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Christine Granville was actually cited for medals on other occasions for her work in Poland.


What’s the background to this source?

Granville was an agent for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Her name was actually Kristina Gizycka and she was Polish. She escaped the occupation of Poland by Germany. She was brave, intelligent and spoke several languages. This made her an ideal SOE agent. She worked in Poland, France, Italy and North Africa as a British agent.

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British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was anxious in the early 1940s that Germany was able to use the resources and manpower of the lands it had conquered for its war effort. He was also aware that there were resistance movements in the countries that Germany had occupied. The aim of the SOE was to try and disrupt Germany's use of its conquered lands and to help resistance movements.


It’s worth knowing that...

Christine also worked in Hungary and Turkey as a British agent. In 1941 she was arrested and interrogated. She escaped but the Gestapo now had a photograph of her and were looking for her. Despite this, she returned to Poland to carry out her work.

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At the end of the war she was told by British intelligence that they no longer had any use for her, and she felt bitter about this. She returned to Poland and started working for the Polish intelligence agencies.


What do we learn about SOE from this source?

  1. Study extracts a-c. Make a list of Christine's achievements.
  2. Which qualities or qualifications would have helped her most to carry out this work successfully?
  3. A citation is a recommendation for a medal. If you were the Prime Minister would you have awarded Christine the medal?
  4. Would it be going too far to say that Christine was the perfect SOE agent?

Use this outline to plan your poster.