Secret Intelligence Service

Ungentlemanly Warfare


from the SIS Archive


Note : Being female, I concur to the pseudonym (ungentlemanly) though nothing was, is or will be confined specifically to one gender, but this is how the SOE’s activities were described and of course I respect such


(C-I) Unit



Briefly here because I explain SOE elsewhere and in much depth of detail; the Special Operations Executive – SOE was a World War II organisation,  formed on 22 July 1940 under Hugh Dalton  – Minister of Economic Warfare, from the consolidation of three existing classified organisations. SOE’s purpose was to perform espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance across occupied Europe (later across occupied Southeast Asia) against the Axis powers **, and to aid local resistance movements.

** the Axis powers (German – Achsenmächte; Italian: Potenze dell’Asse; Japanese – 枢軸国 Sūjikukoku). Also referred to as Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis i.e., the nations that fought in WWII against the U.K. and our Allies.

Few people were actually aware of SOE. Those who were members or liaised were oftentimes referred to as the Baker Street Irregulars, because of the location of its London headquarters. It was also known as Churchill’s Secret Army, or the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Its various branches, and sometimes the organisation as a whole, were concealed for security purposes behind names such as the Joint Technical Board or the Inter-Service Research Bureau, or fabricated branches of the Air Ministry, Admiralty – War Office.

SOE operated in all territories occupied or attacked by the Axis forces, except where demarcation lines were agreed with our principal Allies (the US and the Soviet Union). It also made use of neutral territory on occasion, or made plans and preparations in case neutral countries were attacked by the Axis. The organisation directly employed or controlled more than 14,000 people, about 3,250 of whom were women.

At the conclusion of WWII, the organisation was officially dissolved (on 15 January 1946).

SOE was formed from the merger of three existing secret departments formed shortly before the outbreak of WWII. Immediately after the Anschluss in March 1938, the Foreign Office created a propaganda organisation referred to as Department EH (after Electra House, its headquarters), run by Canadian newspaper magnate Sir Campbell Stuart. Later that month, MI6 formed a section referred to as Section D, under command of Major Lawrence Grand RE, to investigate the use of sabotage, propaganda, and other irregular means to weaken an enemy. In the autumn of the same year, the War Office increased the remit of an existing research department known as GS (R) and appointed Major J. C. Holland RE as Head so to conduct research into guerrilla warfare. GS (R) was renamed MI(R) during early 1939.

These three departments worked with few resources until the outbreak of war. There was much overlap between their activities. Section D and EH duplicated much of each other’s work. On the other hand, the heads of Section D and MI(R) shared intelligence and agreed to a rough division of their activities; MI(R) researched irregular operations that could be undertaken by regular uniformed troops, and Section D would deal with truly undercover work.

During the early months WWII, Section D was actually housed at St Ermin’s Hotel, Westminster and later at the Metropole Hotel, near Trafalgar Square. The Section attempted to sabotage deliveries of vital strategic materials to Germany from neutral countries by mining the Iron Gate on the River Danube. MI(R) meanwhile produced pamphlets and technical handbooks for guerrilla leaders. MI(R) was also involved in the formation of autonomous units (companies) intending to carry out sabotage and guerrilla operations behind enemy lines in the Norwegian Campaign, and the Auxiliary Units – stay-behind commando units based on the Home Guard who would act in the event of an Axis invasion, as seemed likely during the early years of the war.



Briefly, the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was an intelligence agency during World War II, and a predecessor to the CIA. The OSS was formed as an agency of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to co-ordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for all branches of the US Armed Forces. Other OSS functions included the use of propaganda, subversion and post-war planning.

The organisation was developed with our (British) SOE assistance; William J Donovan who was appointed co-ordinator of information had responsibilities but no actual powers and the existing US agencies were hostile. Until some months after Pearl Harbor, the bulk of OSS intelligence came from here. British Security Co-ordination trained the first OSS agents in Canada, until training stations were set up in the US with guidance from BSC instructors, who also provided information on how the SOE was arranged and managed. MI6 / SOE immediately made available their short-wave broadcasting capabilities to Europe, Africa, and the Far East and provided equipment for agents until American production began.

The Office of Strategic Services was established by a Presidential military order issued by President Roosevelt on June 13, 1942, to collect and analyse strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to engage in special operations not assigned to other agencies. During the war, the OSS supplied policymakers with facts and estimates, but the OSS never had jurisdiction over all foreign intelligence activities. The FBI was responsible for intelligence work in Latin America, and the Army and Navy continued to develop and rely on their own sources of intelligence.

The OSS espionage and sabotage operations produced a steady demand for highly specialised equipment. General Donovan invited experts, organised workshops, and funded labs that later formed the core of the Research and Development Branch. Boston chemist Stanley P. Lovell became its first head. Throughout the war years, the OSS Research & Development successfully adapted our  weapons and espionage equipment, and produced their own line of novel spy tools and gadgets, including silenced pistols, lightweight sub-machine guns, Beano grenades that exploded upon impact, explosives disguised as pieces of coal or bags of Chinese flour, acetone time delay fuses for limpet mines, compasses hidden away in uniform buttons, playing cards that concealed maps, a 16mm Kodak camera in the shape of a matchbox, tasteless poison tablets and cigarettes containing tetrahydrocannabinol acetate (taken from Indian hemp) so to induce uncontrollable talking.

The OSS also acquired innovative communication equipment such as; wiretap gadgets, electronic beacons for locating agents, and the Joan-Eleanor portable radio system that made it possible for operatives on the ground to establish secure contact with aircraft preparing to land or drop cargo. The OSS Research and Development also printed phony German and Japanese- ID cards, ration cards, and counterfeit money and so on …..


Ungentlemanly Warfare. Continued

McLaglen Peskett Close Combat Weapon Multi-purpose Weapon (USA)




Like the SOE (see above) the operatives of the special units of the Office of Strategic Services of the United States – OSS had to perform special tasks in the rear of the enemy, for which they needed a variety of weapons. In particular, in the arsenals of the Office there were various blades, batons and garrote. At some point, the OSS designers decided to combine the functions of several types of weapons in a single product. Due to this, soon a multi-functional melee weapon called McLaglen Peskett Close Combat Weapon was put into service.

Briefly, during World War II, the OSS Special Forces consisted of half a dozen different combat knives and daggers. All these products differed in shape and size of the blade, as well as combat capabilities. Also, there were several varieties of batons, including folding, and garrote. This meant that for a close combat or for silently neutralising the watch fighter could use any available means. On the other hand, a wide selection of products for various purposes forced the soldiers to carry several samples with them at once and weighed down their equipment.

Approximately in 1943-44, the advanced weapons development department of the OSS proposed to create an entirely new model of free-for-all (melee) weapon that would combine several separate samples at once and, accordingly, could solve several problems of various kinds. Soon the proposal was implemented, and in the Office of the received serial products.

From what I know, the designers of McLaglen and Peskett were engaged in the development of the new model. The full name of the weapon reflected the names of both engineers. Without focusing on individual functions, their development was designated as a melee / free-for-all weapon. Thus, a product called McLaglen Peskett Close Combat Weapon was offered for adoption. Also in some sources, including the official OSS publications, the name is given without mentioning Mr. McLaglen.

The aim of the CCW project was to abandon the individual combat knife, garrote and batons in favour of a universal device that has all the necessary functions. This design problem was solved in a very original way. The finished weapon had only a limited outward resemblance to some other models in service. At the same time it exceeded them in certain performance characteristics.

The main and largest part of the CCW McLaglen-Peskett was a cylindrical body. It was made in the form of a tube with a length of 5.625 inches (143 mm) with a maximum diameter of 7/8 inches (22 mm). The tube had a variable diameter. Near its upper part, it slightly decreased, providing convenience of retention. Most of the outer surface of the case had annular grooves, which also improved the fit of the weapon in the hand. Near the upper end of the case there were holes for the installation of some additional devices. Bottom side placed a large button to control the blade. Opposite it was provided for mounting ring with a strap.

At the upper end of the main body, the designers placed a cast metal ball with a diameter of 1 3/8 inches (35 mm). At the bottom of the ball was provided a cylindrical protrusion that went into the body and was fixed with a screw. On some CCW products, the ball had an annular protrusion at the equator. At the same time, samples with a completely smooth ball are known. At the expense of a massive ball at one of the ends, the McLaglen -Peskett weapon turned into a compact mace. The ball served as a shock-topping part and increased the impact force.

In the upper part of the tubular body there was a hole through which thin wire about 2 feet long (about 600 mm) would be pulled out. One end of the wire was fixed inside the body, and the other was equipped with a ring or spherical tip. According to some reports, the McLaglen-Peskett Close Combat Weapon product had the means to wind and store the wire in the transport position, but their device is unknown. Perhaps the wire was stored on a coil, the axis of which was connected to the ball. Rotating the latter, it was possible to wind the wire to carry the weapon further.

The purpose of the wire was simple and straightforward – served as garrote. With its help, OSS commandos were invited to silently attack enemy sentries and strangle them. In this case, the body and the ring performed the functions of the handles, providing an acceptable convenience.

Inside the case was placed a thin blade, which gave the CCW product some possibilities of a combat knife. The blade’s shank, which occupied most of its length, had a circular cross-section. In its back there were grooves for interacting with the lock. The blade itself was made flat and narrow, had a double-sided sharpening with a pointed warhead. Depending on the direction and method of the strike, such a blade could be used as a piercing or cutting weapon. The length of the protruding part of the blade – 5.25 inches (133 mm).

The long part that combined the blade and the shank moved freely within  the tubular body. In the transport position, the blade was in the tube. A spring-loaded button with a stopper prevented him from falling through its lower end. When pressing this button, the blade under its own weight fell down and stopped in the working position due to the stopper and the button.

For ease of carrying and use in solving all major problems, the McLaglen Peskett Close Combat Weapon received a belt loop. In the lower part of the case there was a protruding pin, on which a metal ring was fixed. It was installed fabric strap, which could be put on the hand. It is curious that the carrying strap was no less than the weapon itself. A special case was also created for transporting weapons on a belt or other regular equipment of a fighter.

The total length of the free-for-all / melee weapons from McLaglen and Peskett was only 7 inches (178 mm). The maximum transverse dimension was determined by the top in the form of a ball with a diameter of 35 mm. The use of the shock of other sizes and shapes could affect the overall dimensions of the weapon. With the blade extended to its working position, the total length of the product increased to 12.25 inches (311 mm). The mass of such weapons did not exceed 500-600 g. Together with small sizes; this provided an advantageous combination of ease of carrying and efficient use.

Designers McLaglen and Peskett created a device that could solve three problems at once, characteristic of sabotage operations in the rear of the enemy. At the same time, the multifunctional weapon favorably differed from three separate samples, both in terms of dimensions and in terms of ease of use. However, in certain situations the universal system could noticeably lose to the specialised weapon.

The product McLaglen Peskett Close Combat Weapon, above all, was designed to silently neutralise the enemy’s watch or solve similar problems. Naturally, the use of such weapons in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy was not ruled out, but in such situations other products, including firearms, could be more useful.

A CCW fighter from McLaglen -Peskett could use his weapon as a baton. For such a use of its training is not required. It was necessary only to properly perform the swing and hit the enemy. The wire that was pulled out allowed strangling the sentry, although this might require preparation. Due to its shape, the retractable blade could show itself in the best way with stabbing blows, which was also useful for covertly neutralising enemy fighters.

The need to combine different functions affected the design of individual elements of the new weapon, which hit its real capabilities. In some cases, CCW was less effective than the samples for which it was created to replace. Thus, a thin and long blade with specific attachments could not show the desired effectiveness of cutting blows. In addition, there was a risk of backlash, because of which one could begin to swing in one’s place, interfering with the proper striking.

Small length and weight could not provide high efficiency CCW as a mace. A relatively short weapon did not protrude sufficiently beyond the bounds of the middle fighter’s hand. As a result, in practice it was not a mace or club, but a kind of simple lead clamped in a hand. For more effective use of weapons in such a role, certain skills were obviously needed.


The Weapons of the SOE (to be continued)


Return to The Art of Spying


Addendum I


Secret Intelligence Service

(C-IV). Unit. London

A Simple Nomenclature

The outcome of the conflict in a situation fraught with violence is defined by psychological attitude no less, and perhaps even more so than any other factor.

Best known techniques of finding the right fighting spirit and the state of vigilance is to carefully study and use colour-coded alert.

Colour code willingness was proposed during the Second World War, subsequently modified and a few years after the war began to promote personal safety.

The first level is a psychological condition characterised by complete detachment from all that is happening around the absolute unwillingness to react to danger. In this state, a person is immersed in themselves, all the attention is absorbed in his/her own thoughts and concerns. On a scale of colour-coded state (similar to a traffic light) is defined as ‘white light’ (in the original version – green). Criminals and/or scum love to deal with those who are not ready to oppose them, because they are – easy prey.

The next higher level of readiness to repel is defined as ‘yellow light’. In this state he/she is psychologically relaxed but aware of events happening around them. He/she knows what or who is behind, notes the unusual, out of the general dynamics of the environment.

Almost any conflict preceded by some implicit signs that a person in a state of ‘white light’ will not even notice.

Is the same as one in the head burns, ‘yellow light’, certainly these signs mark as attention is drawn to the outside. It is possible that symptoms to disturb are quite harmless, but if they portend fight, he/she guards. The pnes in the ‘yellow light’ understand that if would threaten their life, he/she would do everything to prevent the sad outcome for themselves, but he/she does not know when it will happen and who will be the opponent. The main difference between the two characters is that the person is able to ‘yellow light’ drawing attention to what occurs in the immediate vicinity.

This is followed by a state of concern for specific circumstances, and it is marked ‘orange’. In this state, people have said to that any particular sign of probable clashes, and they focus on the source of the alarm. He/she not only understands they might have to use a weapon, but also are aware of the probable presence of a particular purpose. State ‘orange light’ steps closer to a decision on the use of weapons. Internally switch from ‘yellow’ to ‘orange light’ simply can not be said about the transition to the ‘orange light’ directly with ‘white’.

For example, in certain contexts we switch to the ‘yellow light’ (general alarm) on the ‘orange’ (high alarm) when approaching a high-risk zone. Perhaps we have not seen before a specific living target, but the time and the fight situation may well be revealed during the next few seconds, even if the opponent still does not show.

If in the danger zone is detected hidden people, we make the next step on the ladder of combat readiness and accordingly the decision threshold for opening fire even more reduced. This higher level is defined as the ‘red light’ and is typical for a situation where an armed conflict is very likely. We have not decided to open fire, but localised specific person/s, who can be configured to us with hostility and perhaps deserves the outcome – now everything will depend on reaction of the foe to our appearance.

Note : There is a lot more to this and will continue on the website. Link to be added.

Addition :

The determining factor is that the reaction becomes an internal trigger, i.e., the evaluation of the intentions of the opponent on the basis of his/her actions. In its assessment must be based on the possible presence of weapons in the hands of a stranger one kind or another, suspicious movement in our direction, and in exceptional cases – a shot from a weapon aimed at us.

The only factors limiting the operation of the internal trigger, are notions of legality and ethics of the use of weapons in certain circumstances. Terms triggering internal trigger should be determined well before a possible collision, so that when events begin to grow rapidly, did not have to be distracted by the debate with oneself over whether to shoot or wait for another. The reaction product will be a conscious decision, but will be almost instantaneous, and in this sense, such is a conditioned reflex.

Since the beginning of the fight undivided attention completely should be directed to the resolution of the problem. This will require only effective tactical operations, marksmanship and concentration limit for the specific problem of the moment. No pauses and worries about a miss or wrong tactical move. No thoughts about the next shot. Full concentration and mobilisation of all domestic resources for the shot, which is produced at the moment.

It is clear that you need to plan in advance the solution of a tactical task of, for example, with a tour of the room, go through the door or workaround, but not when necessary to protect your life. Whatever it was, but with the beginning of the fight should be no doubt or hesitation.

Psychological state in solving a tactical issue will be determined by the level of danger or the nature of the premonitions just before the start of action. It is necessary to clearly understand the nature of the upcoming mission and that will have to do.

Understanding of what lies ahead and what will do, will be determined by the tactics of action.

For example; you can choose to use gun, shotgun or submachine gun. Can bring a flashlight or before taking any action, please call for backup, but may find it best just to lurk in the dark, using the appearance of the enemy surprise factor, cause smashing blow.

In the course of the operation must be in a state of ‘yellow light’. If you notice signs target or the transition to the study of the danger zone internally switched to ‘orange light’. Upon contact with the cause or source of trait goal – ‘red light’, all systems are immediately available.

Any other mental attitude is just suicide. The decision to open fire is determined by the behaviour or apparent intentions of the enemy. The evaluation of these parameters – the internal trigger.

The usefulness of a lethal shot is determined by the context, but in general the enemy in arms must be destroyed. Some would say that it’s not fair. And so what? Who wants a fair fight, even if sent to the boxing tournament. The cemetery is filled with the graves of those who would like a fair fight. You cannot allow yourself to be distracted by such nonsense, when at stake is life. Remember that the loser in this game – is the dead.

There is a rapid test for the level of mental attitude and readiness to use force. Imagine that now, at this very moment, a gang of armed criminals breaking through your door and want to kill you. Where is your weapon Can you get it in two seconds?

If nothing, then close your eyes and open your mouth – you died.

Secret Intelligence Service

(C-IV). Unit. London


Addendum II


On September 30, 1985, in Palestine, a local group captured four Soviet citizens.

They were the embassy doctor Nikolai Svirsky, consular officer Arkady Katkov, as well as the KGB of the USSR Oleg Spirin and Valery Myrikov. Katkov was wounded in the leg during the capture, and later shot.

The KGB Beirut residency quickly established that the Shiite fundamentalists of Hezbollah and the Palestinian Fatah militants, who received the blessing of religious leader Sheikh Fadlallah, were the organisers of the capture of our employees. The KGB resident in Beirut, Yuri Perfiliev, went to the leader of the invaders Haju Salame. Negotiations with him did not lead to anything. And then the capture of Salame was initiated.

In a personal meeting, Perfiliev explicitly hinted to Sheikh Fadlallah that his next of kin could suffer. For convincing, the sheikh was shown a complete list of addresses of all his relatives and safe houses, where his associates were hiding.

In his book ‘Hijab’, Bob Woodward gave additional comments on the hostage situation :

“In response, the State Security Committee captured a relative of the Hezbollah leader. As one of the measures adopted by the anti-terrorist plan, he was castrated, his gonads were shoved into his mouth, shot in the head and the body sent to the Hezbollah. An accompanying text was attached to the corpse, explaining that other members of the Party of Allah would end their lives in the same way if three Soviet diplomats were not released. ”

A day later, the hostages were released.



Secret Intelligence Service

Ungentlemanly Warfare


Adversitate. Custodi. Per Verum