The Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk, Poland, is a new and cutting-edge institution. It is devoted to all aspects of Poland’s experience during the years 1939-1945 and hosts international conferences as well as the publication of a noteworthy journal (with text in Polish and English). A recent issue, titled ‘1940 – Forgotten War’ includes an article by Jonathan on the genesis of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the extent to which it was able to assist Poland in 1940. The Article is titled ‘Setting Europe Ablaze, or Just Lighting a Match. Britain and the Polish Underground in 1940‘.
Synopsis from the Journal: When the British and Polish governments signed an Agreement of Mutual Assistance on 25 August 1939, the British were woefully under equipped to provide any sort of military response in the event of aggression against Poland by a ‘European Power’. When the new prime minister, Winston Churchill set up The Special Operations Executive (SOE) in July 1940 to assist resistance groups to ‘set Europe ablaze’, was Britain any better placed to carry out her undertaking to the Polish people?
In this article, Jonathan Walker examines the resources available to the fledgling SOE and asks whether its initial scope was realistic in providing material support for Poland’s underground resistance in 1940.