The Secrets of Rue St Roch: Intelligence Operations Behind Enemy Lines in the First World War
by Janet Morgan
Allen Lane, 2004
|41 Rue St Roch, Paris, Today|
Yet this result did not come about easily. There were bitter "turf" wars between the British spymasters; the training of the women who coded the intelligence required considerable effort and then much hand-holding; and there were budget disputes and wrangling in general. The coded messages were sent buried within an agricultural newspaper whose newsprint had to be purchased by the British at considerable up-front expense. There was the constant fear of German capture, and the author gives interesting statistics on those who did not return after the war.
The French government was quite appreciative of the spies' efforts and awarded the participants with appropriate medals. Ominously, the Germans noted them also, and upon returning in 1940 held unpleasant discussions with some of these heroes of the Great War. Apparently, fame was not fleeting enough.
You may find some of the information in The Secrets of Rue St Roch overly detailed for your taste; nevertheless, this book is an interesting and informative discussion about the underbelly of war that rarely surfaces. It is worth reading, even if you decide to exercise the option of skipping the more detailed sections.