Author(s): Roderick Bailey
From the summer of 1943, small teams of elite British soldiers began to parachute into Axis-occupied Albania. These men belonged to Britain s Special Operations Executive, a secret organisation set up early in the Second World War to encourage resistance and carry out sabotage behind enemy lines. Their task was to find and support bands of local guerrillas and harass the Axis as best they could. None of these young Britons had been there before or knew what was waiting for them. Trying to survive in extreme conditions and formidable terrain, SOE missions lived in constant danger of capture and death and were plagued by illness, lice and frostbite. Casualties were appalling. Most guerrillas, meanwhile, seemed keener to kill each other than fight Italians and Germans. British backing went eventually to Albania s communist-led partisans. It remains a controversial choice. Their leader, Enver Hoxha, seized power at the end of the war and was to rule with a brutal hand for forty years. In The Wildest Province
The full story of Britain's Special Operations Executive in Albania and the extraordinary challenges and conditions they faced.
Born in 1974, Roderick Bailey is a graduate of Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities and a former Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford. His PhD looked at SOE operations in the occupied Balkans and in 2003 he was appointed to run a major project to acquire new material for the Imperial War Museum's SOE collections.