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Special Operations Executive Disguise Manual
World War II British Spy Tradecraft
28 pages; 2 chapters
During World War II, the Special Operations Executive Disguise Manual
was only one of many Special Operations Executive manuals prepared for
use by SOE personnel. Over 95% of Special Operations Executive knew
noting about espionage, clandestine warfare, sabotage and organizing
indigenous resistance forces. So the Special Operations Executive created
manuals for everything. Those manuals, like Special Operations Executive
Disguise Manual, supplemented all agent training. Unscrupulous British
agencies have kept the numerous Special Operations Executive manuals
under wraps for seventy-plus years now. They don’t want the “tender” public to
know how ruthless the Special Operations Executive tried to be.
Special Operations Executive Disguise Manual is a manual that offers
some rudimentary, yet very useful, information on temporary self disguise.
The long editorial introduction provides the context, which is required for
getting the most out of the Special Operations Executive Disguise Manual.
"Part of an SOE agent's cover involved the use of quick disguises. Instructor Peter Folis was an actor who specialized in
this. His mantra was, 'When thinking disguises don't think false beards, instead make small changes to your appearance;
wear glasses; part your hair differently; take a different gait'. He also demonstrated how to use scars as a disguise, using
Culloden - a wax-like substance that dried quickly.
The Special Operations Executive (SOE) used a range of disguise techniques. The illustration shows what the catalogue
claims can be done with a 'little shading, a theatrical moustache and a pair of glasses'. Those minimalist, but highly
effective, disguise techniques were drilled home to the SOE recruits by their instructors. In the field, new disguises had to
be quick and easy. For more radical disguises, some agents even underwent plastic surgery to change their appearance."
Excerpt from Special Operations Executive Disguise Manual
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