Helen Fry has over the years devoted much study to British intelligence in the war and has mined the recently opened MI9 files deeply. Several recent books have shone light on the heroic part women played in the story of intelligence, and Fry illuminates their role even more — their lead, indeed, in the various escape lines, especially in Italy, and also, for the first time, something of their role in the interrogation of returnees, the principal source of escape and evasion intelligence.
Fry’s book is not only about mavericks and adventurers. The author also provides exhaustive detail on MI9’s previously unknown forays into intelligence gathering, heralding this revelation as “the biggest disclosure” of her book. This may be so, but it will surely be of less interest to the general reader than the high-octane drama of the escape narratives, which make for compelling reading. It is remarkable that so many of these stories have hitherto remained untold and no less remarkable to read of the scale and reach of MI9.