Unveiled in 2009, this memorial to the SOE agents of World War II on the banks of the River Thames is a lasting tribute to the men and women of the Special Operations Executive, a secret organisation which operated behind enemy lines during World War II.
Also known as ‘Churchill’s Secret Army’, the SOE was formed in 1940 and ran undercover operations until 1946, when the war was over.
Its purpose was to aid local resistance groups behind enemy lines, conduct acts of sabotage and to spy on the enemy.
They mainly operated in occupied Europe, but moved to Asia and Africa in the latter stages of the war.
Agents were selected for their language skills and the ability to cope with ‘rough soldiering’.
They came from all walks of life, from the aristocracy to the working classes. Criminals and women were used, the latter were initially used only as couriers but who were soon sent into the field fully trained in unarmed combat and weaponry to conduct full scale missions.