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The women agents of the Special Operations Executive F section - wartime realities and post war representations

Vigurs, Elizabeth Kate (2011) The women agents of the Special Operations Executive F section - wartime realities and post war representations. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis is an evaluation of the wartime experiences of the female agents of SOE F section and their post war representation through books, films and post-war publicity. The first section looks at selection and training and whether women were treated differently because of their sex, it also shows that the various wartime experiences of the women were different and unique, not fitting into a stock scenario and showing that not all agents who were captured were tortured or executed. The fascination with women agents is addressed and why it is they who have captured the public imagination, not the male agents. The next section provides two case studies, Odette Churchill and Violette Szabo, these two agents were both awarded the George Cross and have become household names. Odette was heavily involved in creating her own post war image and also contributed to that of Violette. The thesis assesses why these two agents have become renowned and how their constructions have influenced public perception of the SOE and caused myths and fictions to become part of the perceived popular wisdom. Odette's influence is discussed further in chapters that evaluate the role of film in the post war representation of the agents, 'Odette' and 'Carve her name with pride' are discussed in terms of how agents are represented, what liberties have been taken with the truth and the importance of historical accuracy in a film. The influence of the films 'Odette' and 'Carve her name with pride' over films made post 1958 and how they have contributed to the inconsistencies and myths that surround the world of SOE and its agents are investigated. An analysis of memorials to the women of SOE F section highlights the difficulties in memorialising such a diverse group of women. Issues that arise include politics, the need to commemorate, the form of the memorial, whether the memorial is site specific and what that means to its impact on visitors, whether the memorial is individual or collective and how a memorial can influence personal responses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2011 10:30
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1751

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