Colin Gubbins

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Major-General Sir Colin Gubbins, KCMG, DSO, MC, (1896-1976) commanded Special Operations Executive (SOE), a British guerrilla and direct action organization, during the Second World War.

Initial service

Commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1914, he finished the First World War as a highly decorated soldier. He then served with Gen. Edmund Ironside with British forces in the Russian Civil War. In 1920-1921, he had duty in Ireland, in a counterinsurgency role. [1]

Beginnings of WWII

In 1938, he joined the War Office guerrilla warfare research unit, first called GS(R) and them MI(R), with Major J.C.F. ("Joe") Holland and Peter Fleming. While he visited the German borders and Yugoslavia, his primary activity was writing "how-to" manuals for guerrillas.

Just before the start of WWII in Europe, in August 1939, he was sent, as a major, with a British assistance and observer mission to Poland, as chief of staff of the British Military Mission, with the secret assignment of assisting the Poles and Czechs with the organization of anti-Nazi guerrilla forces. A week after the German invasion, he escaped to Romania, and then, using false documents, returned home. He led special operations units to the Norwegian campaign, which ended before his raiders, which would have moved on fishing trawlers, could enter the action.

Auxiliary Units

He was then ordered to organized stay-behind guerrilla units in Britain, the Auxiliary Units (WWII British). [2]

Special Operations Executive

Reporting to the Minister of Economic Warfare, initially Hugh Dalton and then Lord Selborne, he was involved with SOE from its birth to its demobilization, taking command in 1942.[3]