MI9: A History of the Secret Service for Escape and Evasion in World War Two

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An online presentation by Dr Helen Fry, historian and author, on the history of MI9 — the World War Two organisation that engineered the escape of Allied forces from behind enemy lines.

When Allied fighters were trapped behind enemy lines, one branch of military intelligence helped them escape: MI9. The organisation set up clandestine routes which traversed Nazi-occupied Europe, enabling soldiers and airmen to make their way home. Secret agents and resistance fighters risked their lives and those of their families to hide the men.

Drawing on declassified files and eye-witness testimonies from across Europe and the United States, Dr Helen Fry provided a significant reassessment of MI9’s wartime role. Central to its success were figures such as Airey Neave, Jimmy Langley, Sam Derry and Mary Lindell — one of only a few women parachuted into enemy territory for MI9. This presentation combined escape and evasion tales with the previously untold stories behind the establishment of MI9 — and will reveal how the organisation saved thousands of lives.

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Dr Helen Fry has written and edited over twenty-five books. Her works cover the social history of the Second World War including: British Intelligence and the secret war; spies and espionage; and MI9 escape and evasion. She is the leading expert on the 'secret listeners' at special eavesdropping sites by British intelligence in World War Two. Helen has been at the forefront of widespread coverage and in-depth research of the greatest intelligence deception of the war — the bugging of Hitler’s Generals at Trent Park, North London.  

Helen is recognised as the official biographer of MI6 spymaster, Colonel Thomas Joseph Kendrick. She has also written extensively about the 10,000 Germans who fought for Britain in the Second World War. Helen has also been involved in a number of documentaries – including David Jason’s Secret Service for Channel 5 and Spying on Hitler's Army for Channel 4. She has conducted advisory work for TV and drama, and has covered the major D-Day commemorations in live BBC broadcasts in Normandy. She appears regularly in media interviews and podcasts. Helen is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London, an Honorary Member of The Association of Jewish Refugees and an ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence.

The webinar was moderated by Professor Beatrice Heuser, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI and Professor of International Relations, University of Glasgow.

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