Special Operations Executive

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The Special Operations Executive (SOE) (sometimes referred to as "the Baker Street Irregulars") was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct warfare by means other than direct military engagement. Its mission was to encourage and facilitate espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines and to serve as the core of the Auxiliary Units, a British resistance movement.

It was also known as "Churchill's Secret Army" or "The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" and was charged by Churchill to "set Europe ablaze." It was publicly concealed as a Joint Technical Board and sometimes as an Inter-Service Research Bureau.

The SOE directly employed or controlled just over 13,000 people, about 3,200 of whom were women.[1] It is estimated that SOE supported or supplied about 1,000,000 operatives worldwide.[citation needed]

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