The story of the political and military activities of SOE, especially its relationship with British policy-makers, the Foreign Office and the military high command. It also analyzes SOE's relationship with the Yugoslav guerrilla movements, the exiled Yugoslav government, other secret organizations and its US counterpart, and examines how rivalries among all these players influenced SOE activity in Yugoslavia. Did SOE's involvement with the Yugoslav resistance contribute appreciably to the war against the Axis powers? By supporting first the royalist resistance and, when it proved unsatisfactory, switching to the communist-led Partisans, the British expected to gain military advantage from increased guerrilla activity. Because this was primarily designed to allay potential political conflict with Britain's Soviet ally, rather than benefit Yugoslavia itself, the long-term aims of the resistance movements were not taken into account. Thus the work contends that SOE's involvement in Yugoslavia merely exacerbated the civil war.
Heather Williams teaches modern history at the University of Southampton.
Contents: Swashbucklers and Secret Agents - Experiments in Sabotage and Subversion: 'Doing Something' in the Balkans - Return to Occupied Yugoslavia - Backing Mihailovic: One SOE Officer and No Supplies - Propaganda Wars - Yugoslavia, From Side Show to Centre Stage - Contacting the Partisans - Backing both Sides: The Period of Equal Support - Ditching Mihailovic: or Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater - Backing the Partisans: From Illusion to Reality.