Top Secret

In 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill established a secret organisation 'to set Europe ablaze!' Discover how the work of British secret agents changed the course of the World War II


The SOE (Special Operations Executive) designed and built a whole range of gadgets for their secret agents to use to carry out their assignments.

They made tiny cameras and hid them inside cigarette lighters, buttons, pipes, pens, golf balls, and hairbrushes.

The SOE designed shaving cream cannisters and toothbrush tubes with hidden compartments. Agents could safely hide secret messages or other objects in what looked like ordinary bathroom supplies.

Agents carried edible notepaper made out of rice paper. If an agent got caught by enemy forces, he could eat top secret information.

The story behind the book

This was a fascinating book to write because I found out so much interesting stuff that I hadn't known before. The agents recruited by the SOE were sometimes quite ordinary people, but they ended up doing extraordinary things. They faced real danger all the time.

The publishers asked me to include a profile of one of the female agents in the SOE. In the end I chose Violette Szabo, but there were many other female agents. One of them was Nancy Wake, born in Wellington in 1912, and nicknamed The White Mouse by the Gestapo because of the way she always managed to escape.

Reader's Activity

• Watch a James Bond movie and invent your own amazing spy device.

• What is the connection between James Bond and the SOE? (Hint: who was the author of the James Bond stories, and what did he do in the war?)

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