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Accidental Agent

John Goldsmith
John Goldsmith's wartime exploits are all the more remarkable considering that at first his services were consistently refused due to his being over 30. Not easily deterred he eventually became a tank driving instructor in the ranks. In 1942 accidental circumstances saw his recruitment into Buckmaster's F Section of the Special Operations Executive. His faultless French and upbringing in Paris were to prove invaluable. Commissioned overnight and after intensive training he was parachuted into France for the first of his three missions.

His adventures included crossing the Pyrenees, sabotage, forming his own circuits, being captured by the Gestapo, a daring escape and black-marketeering. In 1944, now a Major, he was advisor to the Maquis in the Mont Ventoux area where they fought the Germans in pitched battles and won.

Although this refreshingly modest account does not admit to it, Goldsmith's extraordinary war is best summed up by his DSO, MC, three Croix de Guerre and Legion d'honneur. Accidental Agent is as thrilling an account of war behind enemy lines as has ever been written, the author's descriptions of his experiences and the many colourful characters he came across are a joy to behold.

What a story, this man relates his heroic activities soberly and gently which belies the trauma, drama and fear that he must have felt during the war. This book is so easy to read that I had to stop sometimes and try and visulise the danger of it all, John's simple escape from the Gestapo where he left no trace of his whereabouts for example, when he tells the truth about the fear which descended upon him which caused his leg to tremble so much that he nearly failed. Had this been me there would have been a trail of bricks all the way back to the safe house.

Just as terrible was his decision to go back to France knowing that the Gestapo had all of his details on file! Also informative were the details of other SOE agents and radio ops operations; he shares the glory as well as the sad events which lead so many of them to capture and death. What a fantastic book, fit for anyone's bookshelf in pride of place; get a copy as soon as you can.

4.5 mushroom heads

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