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Old 19 June 2009, 15:28
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Thumbs up No Cloak, No Dagger by Grace Stoddard

An undercover agent breaks the silence...

I had the privilege of meeting one of the greatest unknown hero's of WWII. His name is Mr. Keith Armstrong, he was British SOE (Special Operations Executive 1940 - 1946). As an agent of the British government, Mr. Armstrong endured danger, betrayal, imprisonment, and torture...but he could tell no one of his experiences. He was not merely forbidden to disclose the particulars of a given assignment; nobody close to him- his parents, wife, children, or friends- had any clue as to what kind of work he did, or why he would sometimes disappear for months at a time.

- The Special Operations Executive 1940-1946 -

The headquarters of the volunteer force that, 'set Europe ablaze' What was the foundation of the underground army that helped turn the balance of power during World War Two? The agents of the SOE demonstrated tremendous courage, and enjoyed many successes, in their guerrilla war against Hitler's forces.

No Cloak, No Dagger is the fascinating account of one man's life in the world of espionage. Taking us from Armstrong's intense training Camp X to his undercover work fighting the Nazis and the Communists, his story will grip you long after you have turned the last page....

To this day the British government denies his participation in SOE, yet he holds several of the highest and most distinguished awards of the British, French and Belgium governments. At 84 years of age, Mr. Armstrong has yet to receive the money the SOE (now Mi-6) had put into savings for him. He recently won his case against the British government at the International Courts, but has yet to see any of the funds to this day. Keith Armstrong and Grace Stoddard reside in Eugene, OR.

I am making it my personal mission to make his story heard to as many WWII, spy and history enthusiasts as possible. I encourage you to read his book and own this piece of history for you own collection. Please forward this to as many friends and colleagues as possible, it is a story that must be heard...

"No Cloak, No Dagger
ISBN: 978-1-60494-144-9
Wheatmark.com
Also available at many online retailers or through special order
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Old 4 July 2009, 10:33
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I simply cannot put into words what Mr. Armstrong went through for King and Country during WWII and the start of the Cold War. My emotional roller coaster of a ride of the torture, stress and near death experiences he endured. And his personal struggle between the two worlds of marriage/family and "The Agency." If you've seen "The Good Shepard" then you have a tiny understanding of what it was like in the espionage world. As a historian this opens a whole new door of WWII for me and those that died during their resistance of the Nazis.
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Last edited by OSU; 4 July 2009 at 10:36.
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Old 5 July 2009, 09:41
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Sounds like an incredible read, I'll have to add it to my list. Thanks, C.
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Old 31 July 2009, 12:37
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I recently discovered this book on amazon and read it. I was astonished, amazed, moved, and very many other words. It truly is an incredible story. However, I was very disappointed by the fact that the book was so poorly edited - it seemed to lack half of the punctuation it needed. It's unfortunate that such a story was published in such a way, and I wonder if there is anything could be done, such as proofreading the bok and rereleasing it?

Also, a quick question about the book itself - it was written in first person, but not by Keith Armstrong, but by a person named Grace Stoddard. Who is she and what relation does she have to Mr. Armstrong?
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Old 31 July 2009, 19:09
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Will have to check it out.
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Old 1 August 2009, 08:45
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Grace Stoddard is Mr. Armstrong's wife. And they had a different version of the book to release but no one would publish it until Wheaton agreed to publish it. I guess the big publishing companies didn't want to publish it unless they knew it would make them money. And I guess from what Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Stoddard told me that the British Foreign Office would only allow some of the books details to be published w/ out releasing anything that would compromise the Official Secrets Act.
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Old 1 August 2009, 10:48
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Thanks for the reply! I'm not surprised to hear that the Official Secrets Act only allowed some details to be published. Still, even if Wheatmark is a company for self-publishing authors, they really could have done a better job of putting in commas and periods where they need to be...
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Old 16 August 2009, 18:00
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I had the extreme pleasure of having lunch w/ Mr. Armstrong this afternoon and it is amazing to hear his stories in such detail, w/ out giving up too much info, about different times of his life. Amazing pictures of him and others over the years. If you haven't read the book yet, get it!
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Old 14 November 2017, 13:18
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Armstrong is what one might call a fantasist. You have all been hoodwinked. No Cloak no Dagger is a work of fiction. There are lots of special op fantasists out there. be warned.
Whist searching for more information on Scheveningen, a German sabotage school in Holland, I found in ‘Nigel West’s ‘Cold War Counterfeit Spies: Tales of Espionage – Genuine or False, a mention of Keith Armstrong. His story ‘No Cloak No Dagger’ published by Grace Stoppard in 2008 reported him being in Holland during the invasion and, unable to get a plane or boat out as planned, stayed behind and took part in two sabotage operations. No dates were provided.
He went on to destroy a train carrying Jews to concentration camps and during an attack on a power station guarded by ‘Volkstrum’ (This was a national militia founded by Nazi Germany on 16 October 1944), he killed a German sentry. Shortly after the power station attack, he was arrested for breaking the curfew and imprisoned at Scheveningen. When he was being transferred to another prison, he was rescued.
It would be difficult, no impossible for me to get back to England. Nazi patrol boats had closed the ports and it was too risky for a Lysander to taxi in. He told me that German intelligence seemed to know of SOE’s plans in advance. Drops of ammunition constantly fell into Nazi hands and so many agents were picked up and, at gunpoint, made to transmit radio messages back to England. Even when the message included pre-arranged warning signals they were ignored, or perhaps suppressed by someone in SOE. (Quoted by West as from Cottell, John, Codename Badger, 1999)
Sent down the Comete escape line and the ‘underground railroad’ to Bordeaux, he crossed into Spain. Detained at Miranda del Ebro camp for ‘some weeks’, he was released and travelled to Lisbon, from where a plane flew him to England. There is no record of him in Cecile Jouan, Andrée ‘Dédé’ de Jongh’s sister’s book 'Comète' published in 1948 which lists evaders and escapees.
After interrogation at the Royal Victoria Patriotic School, he was reunited with his wife, Arlette, who worked as a telephonist at ‘SOE headquarters in Dorset Square.’ Even though she was Belgian, she was attached to ‘F Section.’ Stoppard appears to have got it wrong. SOE’s headquarters were at 64n Baker Street and it was RF Section that had an office at 1 Dorset Square.
He then was sent to Thame Park, near Oxford, which SOE used for wireless training, and was given the codename Vapor. Someone known as OSU on the Special Operations Community Network claimed to have met this SOE agent, ‘one of the greatest unknown heroes of WW2’. A search in the National Archives Discovery revealed no personnel file. Arlette, it was claimed, was sent on a mission to Nazi-occupied France but she too has no personnel file and she does not appear in Pierre Tillet’s list of infiltrations. If the story is true, maybe they were SIS agents.
In September 1944, he was reported to have landed by glider near Oostereck (Oosterik is a few km from the German border, about 60km east of Zwolle) as part of Operation Market Garden. During heavy street-fighting, he seized a Bren gun and shot dead Major-General Kassin, ‘the field commander of Arnhem.’ [West mentioned that historians’ documentation of his assassination on 17 September 1944 include no mention of Armstrong.] Wounded in the attack, Armstrong was taken to hospital but was arrested and tortured by ‘Obersleutnant Schreider’. [Not found on a Google search. But Obstlt Joseph Schreieder was Maj Giskes’ SD contact during the Op NORDPOL activity in the Netherlands.] Sentenced to death ‘by Heinrich Himmler and Heinrich Mueller’, in late October 1944, he was sent by train to Buchenwald concentration camp.
Amongst those freed by American forces in April 1945, a member of the Voluntary Air Detachment escorted him back to England where he was met by Colin Gubbins, Claude Dansey (Assistant head of SIS) and Winston Churchill. Invited to tea at Downing Street and later at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country house, he claimed to have got to know Churchill’s daughter-in-law, Jane. Churchill was claimed to have said that Armstrong had been ‘singled out with certain others in a plan to deceive German intelligence while under interrogation.’ Operation PERIWIG was an attempt in early 1945 to undermine the Gestapo by falsely leading them to believe that there was an active German resistance operating in Germany. The deception included dropping agents with fake plans. Whether Armstrong was involved is unknown.
Provided with a new birth certificate to make him appear older, he was given an office ‘in the basement of Northumberland House’. What work he was doing was not specified but when he discovered a photograph of his wife taken in Ravensbrüch concentration camp he hitched a ride on Squadron Leader Giles flight from RAF Wittering to Paris to investigate her fate. After finding a Dutch woman who witnessed her execution, Armstrong was determined to avenge her. He traced her killer, an SS soldier, to Lüchow, near Celle and Hanover, and shot him and his wife.
Back in London, he worked as an interpreter with Colonel A.P. Scotland at the London Cage in Kensington Palace Gardens and served at a court-martial as a major of eight German soldiers who had murdered a sergeant-major at a prison camp. According to Stoppard, five were hanged at Pentonville Prison.
He then accompanied Oreste Pinto to Holland to investigate the activities and death of Christian Lindemanns, ‘a known double-agent’. He then worked with the Palestinian Police but was posted to Malta when he showed ‘signs of stress’.
The Belgians awarded him two medals, the French three, including the Croix de Guerre and on 28 January 1947, he was awarded the Military Cross at Buckingham Palace, where he met King George VI and Field Marshal Lord Wavell. He subsequently had tea at Windsor Castle.
Working ‘as a dishwasher and cleaner at the Lyons Corner House’ was cover for ‘MI6, a department of the Foreign Office’. After further training, he was one of a team of five who were sent to Groningen to collect two dangerous Nazis in the Baltic off the Polish city of Utska. Ambushed on the return journey, one of his colleagues was shot dead.
Further exploits were detailed including working as a photographer in a holiday camp near Eastbourne but under secret instructions ‘to keep an eye on shipping and report conversations I heard which might have some bearing on the activities of a foreign power.’ He claimed to have been in Budapest, Vienna, Dublin, Dresden and Moscow.
West went on to give a similar account claimed by John Cottell in his wartime ‘memoirs ‘ Codename Badger’, which Arthur Gordon of the Reader’s Digest hoped to publish in 1990. The project was abandoned when Cottell was found to be a convicted conman. He claimed to have been recruited by Claude Dansey to join SIS’s ‘Z’ Section [a top-secret intelligence network operating in Europe} as a teenager, to have been in SOE’s Dutch Section, to have married Marianne de Roubaix, a beautiful Belgian who worked as a telephonist in the Belgian Embassy in London before also joining SOE. {No hits on Google.]
Cottell claimed to have been trained at Wanborough, knifed a prison convict at Beaulieu, sent to Camp X in Ontario and parachuted into Holland.
It was going to be difficult if not impossible for me to get back to England. Nazi patrol boats had closed the Channel ports. Escape by Lysander was too risky. German intelligence seemed to know the plans of SOE in advance. Drops of arms and ammunition constantly fell into Nazi hands. Many agents were being picked up and made to transmit messages back to Britain at gunpoint. Even when they included prearranged distress signals to indicate that the message was being sent under duress, the signals were ignored, or perhaps suppressed by some traitor within SOE itself. (Quoted by West as from Cottell, John, Codename Badger, 1999, p.19)
He too used the Comete escape line, was imprisoned at Miranda del Ebro before being brought back to England and interrogated by Gubbins at The Royal Victoria Patriotic school. After training, he participated in the attack on Arnhem, assassinated General Kassin for which he was awarded the Military Cross. Kent commented that there was no acts of bravery in the documents of the attack. Cottell was arrested, sent to Buchenwald and released by the Americans in April 1945. Cottell also claimed to have been awarded the Order of British Empire medal and to be a member of the Royal Victorian Order.
After the war he hitched a ride with Squadron Leader Giles from RAF Wittering to Paris, traced the SS corporal who killed his wife to Lüchow where he shot dead him and his wife. His post-war career exactly mirrored Armstrong’s. Mrs Candace Cottell, of St Croix Street, Eugene, Oregon, admitted to being Grace Stoppard. Her husband still claimed a military rank and medals to which he was not entitled. West concluded by mentioning that Armstrong was reported to have observed that ‘to claim a high decoration that has not been awarded would be the worst kind of deception and dishonour imaginable’ and Cottell to have said that ‘In Britain to claim a high decoration that in fact has not been awarded is the worst kind of deception and dishonour imaginable.’
West, Nigel, ‘Counterfeit Spies: Tales of Espionage – Genuine or False, Frontline Books, 2016
West , Stoppard, Grace, No Cloak No Dagger, Wheatmark, 2008
Cottell, John, Codename Badger, apparently unpublished but listed on several book websites.
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Old 14 November 2017, 13:20
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Special op fantasists

Counterfeit Spies: Genuine or Bogus? An Astonishing Investigation into Secret Agents of the Second World War. By Nigel West. London: St. Ermin's Press, 1999. 308 pages.
As we all know, modest embellishments can transform a piece of history into an engaging spy story. Sin occurs, however, when small literary inventions give way to major fabrications and outright fraud. Nigel West compellingly exposes many examples of the latter in his book Counterfeit Spies.
Over the past 55 years, according to West, major US and UK publishing houses have printed at least two dozen well-received books purporting to be true accounts of World War II intelligence operations that are, either in whole or in part, rampant embellishments or complete fabrications. Combining keen analysis with recently declassified records, the author systematically examines these books, sorting out the verifiable historical details from the exaggerations and inventions. He introduces us to a number of true frauds, whose publishers were either duped by con artists or simply unconcerned with high standards of accuracy. We meet "LTC John Cottell, MVO OBE MC," author of Codenamed Badger, who describes his life as a British operative from wartime work with the Dutch resistance to his postwar arrest by the KGB and exchange for a Soviet spy. Cottell has given more than 300 lectures around the United States in recent years. No matter that not a single fact of his operational activity—nor even his existence—can be verified. He explains, like many in West's book, that his work was so secret that no records were kept or that archives were destroyed to protect him.
We also meet Josephine Butler, author of Cyanide in My Shoe, who made up dozens of missions into occupied territory. She is in good company with Roseanne Pitt, who wrote The Courage of Fear, who likewise constructed a riveting tale of her frequent parachuting into occupied France. Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, Director of the Political Warfare Executive, who had no personal knowledge of Pitt's claimed activities, wrote a preface to her book, commenting that "The book bears the stamp of truth on every page." Even a well-respected journalist like Quentin Reynolds (The Man Who Wouldn't Talk) and popular historian Leonard Mosley (The Druid) were caught up in the world of invented spies. Mosley's work suggests that there was one German spy in Britain who was not under the control of MI-5, but West's careful investigation shows how Mosley was drawn in by questionable archival records and a willingness to suspend disbelief in his own sources.
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Old 14 November 2017, 13:22
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After the war Maureen Gurney (now Bedfordshire councillor) lived in Pasture Close, near Letchworth Golf Club, where she became friends with Andrée, a beautiful and very wealthy French neighbour who was married to Captain Turner, one of the bosses of Irvings’ parachute making factory in Letchworth. She told Maureen that she was from a very wealthy family in France before the war and that her diamond ring was worth £36,000. On discovering that Andrée had a hatred for green peppers it came out that, during the war, she joined the resistance and was dropped by parachute into occupied France. Tempsford was never mentioned. On one occasion she had to hide in the rafters above a churchyard lych gate. Being on the run from the Gestapo she had to survive for several days on only green peppers. Whether they were responsible for a perforated stomach was not mentioned but she told Maureen that the family who hid her friend arranged with the local doctor for her to be given a blood transfusion and that she was tied to her donor for two days.
there's no documentation confirmed her claim.
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Old 14 November 2017, 13:25
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Josephine Butler

Another fantasist was Josephine Butler who published ‘Churchill’s Secret Agent’ in 1983, when she was 91 years old. She claimed it was her wartime autobiography, based on an original manuscript entitled ‘The Unknown Woman’ and reprinted as ‘Cyanide in my Shoe’ in 1991. With the code name ‘Jay Bee’, she described working for the Ministry of Economic Warfare in Storey’s Gate, a luxury flat in Sloane Street in London, where she was recruited as the only woman in Churchill's top-secret ‘Circle of 12’ elite spies. With what she claimed as a photographic memory, impeccable French which she learnt when she lived in Bruges, a mixture of karate and ju-jitsu training and a look-alike cousin who could double for her when she went overseas, she claimed to have been given the identity papers of Yvonne Millescamp to use in the Paris area and Josephine Maisonnave in the Lyon area and Lysandered from and returned to RAF Tempsford on more than fifty missions in enemy-occupied France.
On one of her missions, she described the clothes she wore.

As it was October, I could easily wear a light uniform under my tweed suit – consisting merely of a khaki blouse and skirt, and I would wear an identity disk on a chain round my neck. I wore a silk scarf (made in Paris) like a cravat so that it hid my blouse, my suit was brown and beige tweed, my hat of light felt and fashionable in Paris in the 1930s. my large handbag was also fashionable at that period, and would hold my equipment; I was not going to stay, so I would travel light. My cigarette lighter was on adjustment, a compass, and I also had a compass watch.
I wore a pair of former golf shoes. They were of fawn suede, by Jaeger, and had been made in Paris before the war to match a camel-hair suit. The soles and heels were very thick and made of corrugated rubber crêpe. A piece of rubber from one of the heels had been slightly loosened, and it was in this cavity that I carried my cyanide capsule. It was undetectable. I was very content to have this capsule as far away from my mouth as possible. I had seen rats die of cyanide poisoning and it was not a pretty sight. I knew, however, that I would swallow it if circumstances arose in which death was the only answer. I would never be taken alive. (Butler, Josephine, Cyanide in my Shoe, This England, 2000, p.120)

Posing as a supply teacher, her sang-froid on missions fraught with danger and importance; her stories of German ruthlessness and atrocity and Gallic tenacity and courage make convincing reading but her name does not appear in any SOE literature I have read, nor is there a personnel file on her in the National Archives.
The Special Duties Squadrons certainly infiltrated SIS agents behind enemy lines but, as neither Clarke nor Verity mentions her and her name and cover name do not appear in Pierre Tillet’s tentative list of in/exfiltrations into/from France between 1940 and 1945, one has to suspect the story as fictitious.
On two trips she claims to have sat beside the Lysander pilot but there was only one seat in the cockpit. She also claims to have jumped out of a Lysander four feet from the ground as the landing strip had been ploughed up, a skill she reputedly was taught by a 161 Squadron pilot in Lincolnshire. As the Lysander’s stalling speed was 65 miles per hour, it is unlikely she would have survived such a drop, let alone climb out of the plane. Also, SOE’s instruction regarding cyanide pills was to chew not swallow them, the former bringing death in 15 seconds, the latter taking longer. In some cases, the Germans saw the agent taking the pill, whisked them to hospital and had their stomach contents emptied to allow interrogation.
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Old 14 November 2017, 13:29
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Butler also claimed to have drugged someone London wanted to question and pushed him into the cockpit with the pilot - impossible.
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Old 14 November 2017, 14:58
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For the love of the English language, can you please start using paragraphs in your posts?

Also, what's the point of your posts?

If you'd like to start a thread on something that you're obviously passionate about, please do so.
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Old 14 November 2017, 16:34
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That is some serious copy and paste.

Are you trying to impress us with your knowledge?
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Old 14 November 2017, 17:00
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Truly, 'tis a great wall of text,
...signifying nothing.
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Old 14 November 2017, 17:56
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The more exclusive the group, and the more secretive the group, the more attractive it is for posers to claim membership to non-members.
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Old 14 November 2017, 19:19
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Originally Posted by leopardprey View Post
That is some serious copy and paste.

Are you trying to impress us with your knowledge?
I feel certain the good retired teacher knows the difference between his writing and plagiarism. Maybe they don’t teach ibid anymore...
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