Catalogue description Special Operations Executive: Personnel Files (PF Series)

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Details of HS 9
Reference: HS 9
Title: Special Operations Executive: Personnel Files (PF Series)

This series contains personnel files of SOE agents and staff. The files may contain papers dealing with the service records of individuals, including medical reports, appraisals of performance and suitability for particular roles, as well as passport-style photographs of the subject and reports of their activities. The contents in any individual's file can vary considerably however, and some files only contain a very brief note indicating that an individual was considered for service in SOE, but rejected.

Some papers on many of the files are damaged or mutilated to some extent: many have been partly burnt; some names have been removed by being cut out from papers at some time in the past. The files also include papers in many different languages, according to the work performed by the individual concerned. Some extracts continue to be retained by the Department under section 3(4) of the Public Records Act and there are dummy sheets in place to indicate where this has happened. Many files contain passport-style photographs of the agents.

Because of the sensitive nature of many of the papers on these files, they are closed during the lifetime of the individuals concerned or until they can be assumed to be deceased (i.e. their 100th birthday). Where no date of birth is known it is assumed that the youngest agents in the field in the last year of the war might have been born as late as 1930, and the 100 year closure date has been calculated from 1930.

Date: 1939-1946

The files are arranged alphabetically by surname, but the alphabetical arrangement is not entirely accurate (especially for individuals who share the same surname) and reflects the arrangement used by SOE. Individuals with double-barreled names are filed under the second, rather than the first part of the name (for example, the file for Lt-Col Geoffrey Gordon-Creed is found under 'c' rather than under 'g'). Aliases and codenames for agents are given in the list, but the arrangement is by the agent's true name. Where female members of staff have married and changed their surnames and this is evident from the file, both maiden and married names are given in the catalogue, but the arrangement is usually by married name. Researchers would however be well advised to look for both maiden and married names.

Additionally, personal files have been bundled together in the past for administrative reasons. Each piece in this series may consist of one or many PFs, and there are some PFs that are so large that they spread over two or more pieces. PRO will be working to make parts of pieces that would normally now be open (because the subject is deceased or born more than 100 years ago), but are at present closed because other parts of the piece cannot be opened, available in due course. At present, however, only PFs where the whole piece can be opened are available to the public.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Miscellaneous

Ministry of Economic Warfare, Special Operations Executive, 1940-1945

Physical description: 1654 files and bundles of files
Access conditions: Subject to closure for periods up to 85 years
Immediate source of acquisition:

Ministry of Economic Warfare, Special Operations Executive , 2002-2003

Accumulation dates: 1940-1946
Selection and destruction information: All surviving PF files have been selected, under PRO acquisition criterion
Accruals: Series is not accruing
Administrative / biographical background:

These PF files are the personal files of agents and other staff of the Special Operations Executive created by the SOE headquarters in London.

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