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Spirit of Resistance: The Life of SOE Agent Harry Peulevé DSO MC [Hardcover]

M.R.D. Foot , Nigel Perrin
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: £19.99
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Book Description

19 Nov 2008
One of the most determined and courageous secret agents of the Second World War, Harry Peuleve' joined the BEF in 1940 before volunteering for F Section of the Special Operations Executive. On his first mission to occupied France to set up the SCIENTIST circuit, he broke his leg on landing and, after numerous close calls, made an heroic crossing of the Pyrenees on sticks in December 1942. Imprisoned, he escaped and eventually returned to England in May 1943.He formed a close friendship with Violette Szabo before setting out to train a Maquis group in central France. Despite the Gestapo's repeated attempts to catch him he built up a secret army of several thousand resistance fighters. Eventually betrayed and captured, he was tortured at Avenue Foch but never broken. By coincidence he and Violette met while in captivity before Harry was sent to Buchenwald where he not only avoided execution but also managed to escape reaching American lines in April 1945. Sadly Peuleve never fully recovered from his wartime traumas but nothing can detract from his outstanding courage and contribution.

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Spirit of Resistance: The Life of SOE Agent Harry Peulevé DSO MC + The Heroines of SOE: F Section: Britain's Secret Women in France + Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice: The True Story of WWII Special Agents Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Military (19 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844158551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844158553
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 16 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 490,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Spirit of Resistance is Nigel Perrin's first book.

To find out more about the life of Harry Peulevé and SOE agents in France, visit www.nigelperrin.com

Product Description


'A gripping account of the courage and determination of a man subjected to the most appalling conditions' -- Best of British magazine

'Anyone who wants to understand why...many apparently ordinary people displayed such extraordinary courage and determination should read Perrin's book' -- Times Literary Supplement

'Nigel Perrin's telling of the life of Harry Peulevé...makes for arresting reading...an engaging and useful work' -- Journal of Military History

'Quite simply the most outstanding study of a special forces hero to appear in years' -- Eastern Daily Press

'The extraordinary career of Harry Peulevé...makes James Bond look like an also-ran'
-- The Armourer


'Quite simply the most outstanding study of a special forces hero to appear in years'

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By Doc Lee
Immediately after the war there appered many books about the S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive), especially in France. These were mainly books of great "derring-do" which gave a flavour of a saboteurs life behind enemy lines but which, in many cases, rather exaggerated the individual's own contribution and importance.

In 1966 the official history of S.O.E. in France was published and a whole new raft of agents such as Harry Peuleve and Francis Cammaerts, were brought into the public domain. Harry Peuleve's first mention was of how in 1942 he was dropped by parachute far too low and sustained multiple fractures of his leg, rendering him useless for clandestine operations. Despite his injuries he still managed to make his escape back to England (after imprisonment in Spain) by crossing the Pyrenees. After recovery and recuperation he returned to duty in France.

It gives little away to say that he was eventually betrayed to the Germans and ended up in Buchenwald from which he eventually escaped returning to the Allied lines with two SS prisoners!!

It is entirely characteristic of this man that he did not seek to profit from his experiences in war. The book was written many years after his death and is based on Harry Peuleve's own unpublished memoirs together with the memories of his family, friends, and others involved in clandestine warfare, together with official sources. Unlike those books written shortly after the war this (and Francis Cammaert's story) continues into peacetime re-adjustment. Suffice to say that up to the time of his death in 1963 he was still experiencing nightmares of his time in Buchenwald and there was the likelihood that he was using alcohol increasingly to enable him to cope with his psychological trauma.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Harry Peuleve was one of the many brave SOE Agents who parachuted into German Occupied France in order to recruit, train and lead the fledgling French Resistance. From the start his mission was blighted when he badly fractured his leg after a diffcult landing. Without medical asisstance and with German security forces aware that agents were landing, Harry ordered the French Partisans(French Resistance Fighters) to leave him and make good their own escape.
Meanwhile Harry, realising that he could not fulfill his mission and following numerous problems headed to Spain and crossed the Pyrenees in the Winter with the assistance of a pair of walking sticks only to be captured by Franco's facists and sent to Jail. Undaunted he eventually escaped and returned to UK some 6 months later. Harry volunteered for a 2nd mission and returned to Occupied France. He established teams of French Maquis Resistence to harass the Germans, in this he demonstrated outstanding gallantry and leadership in an engagement with some 400 well armed germans killing some 50 of them before making his escape. Soon after this engagement he was captured and brutally tortured by the Gestapo at Avenue Foch in Paris. He was sent to Buchenwald Concentration Lager and in a bizzare situation during an attack by Allied Aircraft on the train taking him to the Lager, he was reunited with a British Agent who was a good friend, Mrs Violette Szabo, whom Harry had met in London. Violette had similarly been harshly treated when captured and was was assiting other prisoners on the train by handing out water to the starving and thirsty souls held in terrible conditions at the hight of a hot summer, Harry marvelled at her poise and courage despite his own privations, alas he never saw her again as Violette was ulitamtly executed at Ravensbruck Concentration Lager only days before the camp was liberated by the Russian army. John Davidson.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The title tells you all. 19 Sep 2009
For a first book, I cannot praise the author more for the research done on this little known hero.
A wonderful story with all the background of the war in France and the political background in UK. Harry was a man of true grit but I felt he was overwhelmed by his experiences so much that he did not speak of them..as many of his generation.
Nearly too late, he wrote them down and passed them on.
Although he went on to have another Career after the war he was obviously haunted by WW11.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a secret hero 31 Mar 2010
Harry Peuleve lived, as many of SOE, a secret war, a secret life with elements of sadness and massive courage. Nigel Perrin brings to light the remarkable life of this unsung beacon of SOE. This fascinating biography joins the growing number of life studies of underground world of the secret agent in the second world war. There was no glory or glamour. It was survival at all costs. For Peuleve, it was a close run thing and ultimately although a survivor, he died after the war rather young. His DSO MC was thoroughly earned. We need more biographies like this, it joins the amazing lives of Odette Churchill, Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Kahn and Christine Glanville.
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