Commemorative envelope depicting a Halifax III of No138 (Special Duties) Squadron parachuting ammunition and equipment over a resistance rendezvous, signed by Vera Atkins, assistant to Maurice Buckmaster of the French Section SOE during WWII.
Vera Atkins, CBE (16 June 1908, Galati, Romania - 24 June 2000, Hastings, England) was a Romanian-born British intelligence officer during World War II.
In February 1941, she joined the French section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She remained a civilian until August 1944, when she was commissioned a flight officer in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). She was officially the section's intelligence officer while serving as assistant to section head Maurice Buckmaster.
Atkins was given one of SOE's most sensitive jobs - recruiting and deploying female agents. Recently controversy has arisen as to why clues that one of F section's main spy networks had been penetrated by the Germans - F section being the section of the SOE in charge of operations in France - were not picked up, and Buckmaster and Atkins failed to pull out agents at risk. "Instead they sent in several more. A radio operator, Gilbert Norman, had sent a message omitting his security check - a deliberate mistake. So why did she not challenge Buckmaster when other signals from captured radios came in without checks?" Atkins let Buckmaster, " repeat his errors at the expense of agents lives." Her biographer Sarah Helm believes that Atkins, who still had relatives in Nazi occupied Europe, may have helped them escape by bribing Abwehr officials.
When the allied victory in Europe was accomplished, she went to Germany. Her self-appointed mission was to investigate the fate of the 118 F section agents who had disappeared in enemy territory. She succeeded in every case except one.
WW2 SOE cover signed by Assistant to Buckmaster VERA ATKINS
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