‘A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book – told with tremendous pace and excitement’ William Boyd
'This compelling and complete account of the extraordinarily courageous women of SOE is at turns enthralling, edge-of-smart exciting and also heart-breaking. The way in which they were sent into Nazi-occupied Europe and left to face unspeakable danger remains astonishing and Stroud's book is a reminder and fitting testimony to their immense bravery.' James Holland
On 18 June 1940 General de Gaulle broadcast from London to his countrymen in France about the catastrophe that had overtaken their nation – the victory of the invading Germans. He declared ‘Is defeat final? No! . . . the flame of French Resistance must not and will not be extinguished’. The Resistance began almost immediately. At first it was made up of small, disorganised groups working in isolation. But by the time of the liberation in 1944 around 400,000 French citizens, nearly 2 per cent of the population, were involved. The Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up by Winston Churchill in 1941 saw its role in France as helping the Resistance by recruiting and organising guerrilla fighters; supplying and training them; and then disrupting the invaders by any means necessary. The basic SOE unit was a team of three: a leader, a wireless operator and a courier. These teams operated in Resistance circuits and the agents were given random codenames. The aim of this work was to prepare for the invasion of Europe by Allied forces and the eventual liberation of France. It was soon decided that women would play a vital role. There were 39 female agents recruited from all walks of life, ranging from a London shop assistant to a Polish aristocrat. What linked them was that they knew France well, were fluent in French and were prepared to sacrifice everything to help defeat the enemy. The women trained alongside the men, learning how to disappear into the background, how to operate a radio transmitter and how to kill a man with their bare hands. Once trained they were infiltrated behind the lines by parachute or tiny aircraft that could land in remote fields. Some of the women went on to lead thousands of Resistance fighters, while others were arrested, brutally interrogated and sent to concentration camps where they endured torment and death. Lonely Courage tells their story and sheds light on what life was really like for these brave women who tumbled from the sky.
Rick Stroud has written: The Book of the Moon, The Phantom Army of Alamein, and Kidnap in Crete. With World War Two veteran Victor Gregg, he has produced a trilogy of books about Gregg’s life: King’s Cross Kid, Rifleman, and Soldier Spy. Rick Stroud is a trustee of the London Library. He lives in London.
‘A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book – told with tremendous pace and excitement.’
– William Boyd
‘This compelling and complete account of the extraordinarily courageous women of SOE is at turns enthralling, edge-of-seat exciting and also heartbreaking. It is a reminder and fitting testimony to their immense bravery.’
– James Holland
‘Stroud has a storyteller’s eye for human detail matched with a researcher’s diligence.’
– Independent on Sunday
‘Each of the lives that Stroud relates so well offers a shining example of heroism – dauntless, patriotic readiness to risk everything for the cause of human decency.’
– Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph
‘In this superb book, Rick Stroud honours their awe-inspiring bravery and self-sacrifice by telling their stories with an historian’s attention to detail and a novelist’s empathy and sense of drama… it is a pacy chronological account… vividly and concisely delivered by a writer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of World War Two.’
– The Herald
‘Written with genuine vigour, this book pays tribute to truly outstanding female bravery.’
– Elizabeth Fitzherbert, The Lady
– Marcus Binney, Country Life
'Fascinating ... a hugely engaging account, that weaves the women’s stories together with increasing momentum towards its poignant conclusion.’
Get our latest book recommendations, author news, and competitions right to your inbox.
Thank you for signing up, fellow book lover!
Tell us what you like and we'll recommend books you'll love.