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Dr Helen Fry: The Secret Service for Escape and Evasion in WWII


2 Dec MI9eventimage

Chair: Dr Aviva Guttman, Research Fellow in Intelligence and International Security

Speaker: Dr Helen Fry, Author and Historian

This is a Women's Intelligence Network (WIN) Brown Bag Lunch Series event


When Allied fighters were trapped behind enemy lines during WWII, one branch of military intelligence helped them escape: it was called MI9. The organization set up clandestine escape routes that zig-zagged across Nazi-occupied Europe, enabling soldiers and airmen to make their way back to Britain. Secret agents and resistance fighters risked their lives and those of their families to hide the men. Central to MI9’s success were figures such as Airey Neave – the first British prisoner to successfully escape from Colditz. Helen’s talk sheds light on escape and evasion with the previously untold stories behind the establishment of MI9—and reveals how it saved thousands of Allied lives and contributed to a massive intelligence gathering operation that impacted on the Allies’ ability to turn the tide of the war.



Historian Dr Helen Fry has written numerous books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans who fought for Britain, and also British intelligence, espionage and WWII. She is the author of the bestselling book The Walls have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of WWII which was one of the Daily mail’s top 8 Books of the Year for War (2019). She has written over 25 books – including The London Cage about London’s secret WWII Interrogation Centre. Her latest book is MI9: The British Secret Service for Escape & Evasion in WWII – the first history of MI9 for 40 years. Helen has appeared in numerous TV documentaries, including David Jason’s Secret Service (Channel 4), Spying on Hitler’s Army (Channel 4) and Home Front Heroes (BBC1). Helen is an Ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence and an associate editor of Eye Spy Magazine.

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