ACA Woking News by Bill Bawden, PRO

17 April 2007

Surrey's School for Spies

Patrick Yarnold
Patrick Yarnold

The guest speaker at the recent meeting of the AirCrew Association at Fairoaks Airport was Patrick Yarnold, a former diplomat, who has researched the World War II role of Wanborough Manor which stands close to the Hog's Back between Guildford and Farnham.

Wanborough Manor
Warnborough Manor
In 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the formation of the Special Operations Executive to "set Europe ablaze". The French ("F") Section of SOE used Wanborough Manor from early 1941 as a training establishment for agents to be sent into German-occupied and Vichy-controlled France and Patrick told of the training and of the exploits of some of the graduates. These included John Goldsmith, Francis Sutill and Noor Khan whose code name was "Madelaine" and who was awarded the George Cross.

Of the 100 or so agents operated by "F" Section, nearly half were captured and died in prisons or concentration camps, many of them betrayed to the Germans, possibly by another Wanborough trainee, Henri Delacourt, who was suspected of being a double agent - although this was never proved.

The discussion following the talk revealed that some of the ACA members present had played a part in these clandestine operations by flying SOE operatives to and from their missions in France.


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