Curator's Choice: SOE Agents

18th September 2023

© IWM RMY 78. Clip from Now It Can Be Told (1946)

Senior Curator Fiona Kelly highlights a film that provides a true-to-life portrayal of the training and work of SOE agents.

Sponsored by the COI and filmed by the RAF Film Production Unit, Now it Can be Told is a British docudrama directed by Teddy Baird depicting the training and deployment of SOE agents.  In 1943, "Captain Brown" and "Miss Williams" are recruited and trained to be SOE agents (Miss Williams as Brown's wireless operator). They are then sent to German-occupied France, under the operational names "Felix" and "Cat", where they organise resistance, carrying out espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance.

Although the film uses reconstruction, what makes the film so unusual and compelling is that it features actual SOE agents Jacqueline Nearne as “Cat” and Harry Rėe as “Felix”, as well as members of the French Resistance recreating their daring work. Filming began in 1944, although the film was not shown in the cinema before 1946 (as a shortened version entitled School for Danger).

SOE: The Secret British Organisation Of The Second World War

Following the fall of France in June 1940, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) was formed by the British Government as a secret service organisation with the instruction to 'set Europe ablaze.'  SOE agents helped Resistance movements in enemy-held territory as well as conducting espionage and sabotage operations.

Find out More

Seven Stories from Special Operations Executives

Contact the licensing team for further information and help with archive research.

Spies, Lies and Deception. IWM London. 29 September 2023 - 14 April 2024.
Visit our free exhibition uncovering the history of espionage from the First World War to the present day.