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Re: Vague indeed.

December 18 2009 at 3:22 PM

Response to Vague indeed.

Frank Pickersgill and the rest of them were not technically spies. They worked for SOE and were sent into France to raise new circuits. Pickersgill was a WT operator. The WO recruited Canadians largely because of their ability to speak French, familiarity with France and their ability on WT. SOE had to operate in a role similar to SIS at the beginning but their only intent was to wage a sabotage war. Sabotage and spies don't mix. SOE did gather intelligence when it could, but this was not its primary function. As soon as the fighting started, most quickly got into uniform. Others used civilian clothes during that time to travel, however once in a stronghold of the FFI or FTP etc. they would wear a uniform.

As for executions, not only were the German's in Allied uniforms executed but also a few Werwolves. These were German commandos, many from the Hitler Youth, who were trained to attack Allied units in Germany while in uniform and in civilian clothes. Some of the executions were carried out by firing squad on film. Some of those executed looked like they were 12-14 years old but probably older.

The British XX system is an interesting one. While I can't tell you that I know of any German spy during the war being executed in the UK, many chose to work for the British under the duress that if they did not, they would immediately be executed. Some German spies were not brought in but used as a method to feed intelligence directly to Germany in a manner that would not raise suspicion. This included a mixture of true and false information.

I always thought that a few German spies were executed in the US during the war. I know some squealed and it resulted in the network being apprehended, but I also thought some of them were executed?

I think we can learn a lot from those days. Today we are going nuts over a Taliban detainee being slapped in the face with a shoe, yet there is a lot about the winning of prior wars we take for granted. We did not win WW 2 on a squeaky clean slate, in fact far from it. However in those days intelligence services could keep a secret (Well in the days before reality TV ). Now everything has to be a TV show and open to the media. We definitely would NOT have won WW2 without the use of DIRTY fighting and we certainly would not have won trying to be some kind of righteous force for left wingers. War is war and you either win or lose. While no one wants to use torture or wants to condone it, it was used. Tens of thousands of people died to keep a secret. Happenings like the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and the garrison of Hong Kong were all done knowing defeat would likely occur. The resistance forces we supported and fought alongside used torture and execution frequently. There is even an example of a Canadian SOE member being on the execution target list of the resistance because he was sleeping with an informants wife. We sent men into Sarawak to recruit the local people and to turn them back to head hunting against the Japanese. There are many stories relating to the importance of fighting and winning a dirty war against a dirty enemy. They did not care about our judicial system or our supposed righteous stance. While today it is good to distance ourselves from such behaviour, let us not forget that there is nothing pretty in war. In 1939-1945 we had no choice, victory or subjugation and destruction. We did not have the luxury of self righteousness in those days.

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