Secret Armies and the Detonator Concept

  • David Stafford
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


The minister responsible for SOE, Hugh Dalton, was a man of energy and ambition. He had held a Foreign Office post in the 1929–31 Labour Government, and had been the Labour Party spokesman on foreign affairs before the war. He undoubtedly saw his tenure of office at the Ministry of Economic Warfare and his control of SOE (which he dubbed the ‘Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’) as a stepping stone to his eventual appointment as Foreign Secretary. Widely referred to as ‘Dr Dynamo’, his drive and enthusiasm undoubtedly played a large part in the relative speed with which SOE passed from being no more than a bright idea to becoming an operational organisation—a period which very roughly coincided with Dalton’s own tenure of office. On the other hand, Dalton’s personality was not the best of assets in SOE’s inevitable conflicts with existing organisations and interests. Gladwyn Jebb, his personal assistant, later recalled that many people found him heavy-handed and a bore. He had, Jebb said, ‘a rather elephantine way of endeavouring to ingratiate himself with people’, his voice was penetrating and deafening, and ‘his eye used to roll round in rather a terrifying way’.1; The sins of his personal presence were compounded by a lack of tact and abrasiveness which quickly alienated those who crossed Dalton the wrong way.


Foreign Policy Senior Official British Government Resistance Movement Secret Service 
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© David Stafford 1983

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  • David Stafford

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