15. She Attracted the Attention of the Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was formed in June of 1940 as a secret organization, tasked with conducting espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance operations in occupied Europe. Prime Minister Winston Churchill had high hopes for the SOE, whose creation he had ordered within weeks of taking the reins of the British government. Also known as “Churchill’s Secret Army”, and the “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”, the pugnacious Prime Minister directed the SOE to give the Axis no rest, and to “set Europe ablaze!”
Setting Europe ablaze required intimate knowledge of local conditions, and an ability to coordinate with the local anti Axis elements on the ground. Reliable personnel, possessed of the linguistic and cultural knowledge that could allow them to blend in with the locals in occupied Europe, were relatively few. Thus, when Odette’s letter was forwarded to the SOE, it caught their attention. She was born and raised in France, so she met the linguistic and cultural requirements. She was married to a Briton, and had three British daughters, and thus had sufficient ties – and thus, presumably, loyalty – to Britain. She was worth a closer look.