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Garden 1 - Special Operations

The Grove starts at Annette's Memorial Way. Follow the Memorial Pathway signs and you will find a hardened surface grassed over which forms part of a central spine of the Grove leading to the Sun Room and then onto the Falklands Memorial Way to end at the Pegasus Bridge Memorial Flight in the Airborne Forces Garden 7.

Memorial 1.
Dr. John McCrae Tree Seat with the immortal "In Flanders Fields" Poem composed in WW1.

The Tree Seat was created from a giant Sequoia Red Wood in 2005 as part of the Breakaway Survival Tree Seat Project. In 2007 during the July floods it floated down the River Tame from the Grove and ended up on a Municiple Footpath beside the River Trent at Burton-on-Trent! It is bordered by Lavender with Golden Heart Ivy with Ferns growing in and around it. Just in front is a Blue Pine Tree with a Maple Tree to the side.


Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. He is best known for writing the famous poem "In Flanders Fields". McCrae died of pneumonia near the end of the war age 45 on January 8th 1918. The Poem "In Flanders Fields" appeared in Punch Magazine anonymously on 8th December 1915. John McCrae was born on the 30th November 1872.

Memorial 2.
Rt. Hon. Airey Neave MP.

First British Officer to escape from Colditz Castle during WW2. This memorial was contributed by the family of Airey Neave who also provided the Amelanchia (Ballerina) Tree along with other plants to the Grove.

 AIREY NEAVE  Rt Hon Airey Neave MP

Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave, DSO, OBE, MC, TD (23 January 1916 – 30 March 1979) was a British soldier, lawyer and Member of Parliament. During World War II he was the first British prisoner-of-war to succeed in escaping from Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle, and later worked for MI9. After the war he served with the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials. He later became Conservative Member of Parliament for Abingdon. Neave was assassinated in 1979 in a car bomb attack at the House of Commons. The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

He was commissioned in 1935 as a Second Lieutenant in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He joined the Royal Engineers in 1938 and at the outbreak of war he was posted to the 1st Searchlight Regiment Royal Artillery. He was wounded and captured by Germans at Calais on the 23rd May 1940 and succeeded in escaping on the 5th January 1942 from Colditz Castle after a previous attempt failed.

 AIREY NEAVE  Rt Hon Airey Neave MP

Memorial 3.
Isobel Grant Bailey 1921 - 2005. Special Operations Executive WW2. This seat was contributed by her family. Isobel also served with the Army Transport Service ATS. Her records at the National Archive will not be released until 2025. So we look forward to learning about her wartime service in due course. The seat is between the Airey Neave memorial and 299 Squadron Royal Air Force.



Memorial 4.
299 Squadron RAF Memorial - Special Operations Flights - "Y" Worry. WW2.

Commemorating PO Bert Horan, WO Jack Fry, WO Basil Jaggard, WO Reg Lowmanbaker, WO Maurice Davis, WO Gus Tyers. Remarkably these lads all survived the war as well as their hazardous missions. This memorial was contributed by WO Maurice Davis. 299 Motto 'Par Nobile Fratrum' A noble group of brothers symbolising the close association with the Army Airborne Forces. Behind the memorial is a Red Oak Tree which was grown from an acorn found in Oosterbeek Cemetery! The memorial stone is surrounded by mature lavender.


No. 299 Squadron was formed on 4 November 1943 form 'C' flight of 297 Squadron at RAF Stoney Cross, Hampshire as a special operations squadron flying Short Stirling's Mark IV. Their Call Sign was "X9-Y" ( Y Worry). It became operational in April 1944 dropping SOE agents. During the Normandy landings the squadron first delivered paratroopers, and then returned to air-tow 16 Airspeed Horsa gliders across the English Channel. The squadron continued operations with resupply drops until 10 June when it returned to SOE duties. In between the SOE duties the squadron air-towed Horsa gliders for the Arnhem landings (Operation Market Garden), and the Rhine crossing (Operation Varsity). It was also involved in supply-dropping to resistance forces in Norway until the end of the war. At the end of the Second World War the squadron disbanded at RAF Shepherds Grove, Suffolk on 15 February 1946. It had no RAF Crest as a means of preserving its secrecy.

Memorial 5.
624 Squadron RAF Memorial - Special Duties Flights WW2.

This memorial to 624 was instigated by Ron McKeon who set up the very first website with the history of this RAF Unit. The memorial was made possible by Ron and the newly formed 4624 RAF Auxiliary Squadron at Brize Norton, 624 Squadron and their Association and supported by Thales. 624 'Motto Du Noctuque Caeloque'. Behind the memorial is Black Poplar Tree symbolising the night time operations.


No. 624 Squadron was formed by raising No. 1575 Flight RAF to squadron status at Blida in Algeria, North Africa at the end of September 1943. The squadron continued to carry out special duties operations formerly done by 1575 flight into Italy, Southern France, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. These operations included supply dropping and the insertion of agents of the resistance. For these duties the squadron operated at first with Lockheed Venturas, Handley Page Halifax and later Short Stirling Mk.IVs. As a result of the allied advances in France and Italy, the need for 624 squadron in this role had declined and it was therefore disbanded on 5 September 1944.

Memorial 6.
Captain Peter Arthur David Baker.


Peter Arthur David Baker MC (20 April 1921 – 14 November 1966) was a British soldier, author & publisher. During WW2 he was recruited by MI9. Baker's role was to run and reorganise resistance groups and escape routes in France and Belgium in preparation for the forthcoming landings in France on D-Day; his section was attached to 21st Army Group under the ultimate command of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).

Baker found that the established 'ratlines' for helping escapers to get out of France were significantly disrupted by the landings, and the French Resistance was increasingly interested in becoming an overt force. With assistance only from his second-in-command Captain Pringle Dunn and eight French agents, his unit were able to arrange for 146 people ('escaping Allied airmen or prisoners of war, evaders left over from unsuccessful attacks on D-Day and important political refugees') to get to Britain. He volunteered to go over the front line to make initial contact with a party of 138 Allied pilots who had hidden in the Fôret de Fréteval near Châteaudun. He was and still is remembered here by his daughter Penelope on the 5th August 2017 with an Ash Tree (Fraxinus Jaspidea)

Memorial 7.
Humphrey Macare - Dutch Special Operations Executive WW2.


Humphrey Macare was a Dutch Agent for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), parachuted into Holland on October 24th, 1942. He was captured by the Germans and executed around September 1944 at Gross Rosen Concentration Camp in Poland. No known grave exists. His younger brother, Norbert and his family, dedicated a plaque to his memory in the Allied Special Forces Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum on the 11th. November 2007.

Memorial 8.
Special Forces Signals Association


The Special Forces Signals Section was formed in 1946 after successfully operating since 1943. The signallers mostly dealt with the communications with agents and resistance forces in Europe.

Memorial 9.
Squadron Leader Vera Atkins and the women of "F" (French SOE) section memorial seat.
Special Operations Executive WW2. Vera May Atkins CBE was a British intelligence officer who worked in the French Section of the Special Operations Executive from 1941 to 1945 during the Second World War. This memorial was dedicated in September 2011. After the war Vera Atkins joined up with unofficial Special Air Service soldiers to find out what was the fate of her agents. The SAS found most of the Germans who had executed their troops after capture and all of them were tried for war crimes.

"They risked their lives and fought for us.
We owe it to their relatives to find out what happened to them."


This seat was designed and made by Mike Colton. The design of the Star of David has been used by all religions. It features the overlapping triangles and is angled to the North. At its centre is a Pine tree grown from a cone found inside Natzweiller Concentration Camp in the Vosges Mountains of Eastern France during a visit in 2005. The seeds were collected and propagated by Annette Colton who sadly died at the end of August 2011 of cancer. (Hence Annette's Memorial Way) It was planted during the winter of 2008 and has flourished ever since.

Madeleine Bayard - Womens Royal Naval Service (WRENS)


First Officer Madeleine Bayard (21 February 1911 — 1 January 1943), who served as Madeleine Barclay aboard HMS Fidelity (a "Q" ship) on agent-running operations into Vichy France, was a French agent of the Special Operations Executive during World War II. She was lost, with the rest of the crew, when the ship was torpedoed and sunk by German Submarine U-435 on the 30th December 1942 off the Azores. Also lost were the Royal Marines of T-Company 40 Commando.

Yolanda Beekman - Womens Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF)


Yolande Elsa Maria Beekman (7 January 1911 – 13 September 1944) was a British heroine of World War II who served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and the Special Operations Executive. Beekman was a member of SOE's Musician circuit in occupied France during World War II where she operated as a wireless operator until arrested by the Gestapo. She was subsequently executed at the Dachau concentration camp.

Denise Bloch - First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY)


Denise Madeleine Bloch 21 January 1916 – 5 February 1945 was a French secret agent working with the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) in the Second World War.

Andree Borrel - FANY


Andrée Raymonde Borrel (18 November 1919 – 6 July 1944) was a French heroine of World War II who served in the French Resistance and Britain's Special Operations Executive. Borrel was a member of the SOE's Prosper circuit in occupied France during World War II where she operated as a courier until arrested by the Gestapo. She was subsequently executed at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

Muriel Byck - WAAF


Muriel Byck (4 June 1918, Ealing, London, England, UK – 23 May 1944, Romorantin, France) was a heroine of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II.

Madeleine Damerment - FANY


Madeleine Zoe Damerment (11 November 1917 – 13 September 1944) was a French heroine of World War II who served in the French Resistance and Britain's Special Operations Executive. Damerment was to be a courier for SOE's Bricklayer circuit in France during World War II but was arrested upon arrival by the Gestapo, who knew she was coming. She was subsequently executed at the Dachau concentration camp.

Noor Inyat-Khan - WAAF


Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan, GC (1 January 1914 – 13 September 1944), aka Nora Inayat-Khan, was a British heroine of World War II renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive. She also went by the name Nora Baker and was a published author of Indian and American descent who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for her service in the SOE, the highest civilian decoration in the UK. As an SOE agent she became the first female wireless operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance during World War II, and was Britain's first Muslim war heroine.

Cecily Lefort - FANY


Cecily Margot Gordon Lefort (30 April 1900 – February 1945)[1] was a British heroine of World War II who served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Lefort was a courier in SOE's Jockey circuit in occupied France until arrested by the Gestapo. She was subsequently deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she was later executed.

Vera Leigh - FANY


Vera Leigh (17 March 1903 – 6 July 1944) was a British heroine of World War II who served in the Special Operations Executive. Leigh was a member of the SOE's Donkeyman circuit and Inventor sub-circuit in occupied France during World War II until arrested by the Gestapo. She was subsequently executed at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

Sonia Olschanezky - Recruited in France

Sonia Olschanezky (25 December 1923 – 6 July 1944) was a member of the French Resistance and the Special Operations Executive during World War II. Olschanezky was a member of the SOE's Juggler circuit in occupied France where she operated as a courier until arrested by the Gestapo and was subsequently executed at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

Eliane Plewman - FANY


Éliane Sophie Plewman (6 December 1917 – 13 September 1944) was a British agent of Special Operations Executive (SOE) and member of the French Resistance working in the "MONK circuit" in occupied France during World War II. She was involved in a number of highly successful sabotage missions but was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, and later executed by the SS at Dachau Concentration Camp.

Lillian Rolfe - WAAF


At the onset of World War II, Rolfe worked at the British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro before going to London, England in 1943 to join the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Because of her fluency in the French language, she was recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE), where she was trained as a wireless operator. On 5 April 1944, she was dropped near the city of Orléans in occupied France, where she was deployed to work with the "Historian" network run by George Wilkinson. Her job was to transmit Maquis and other important radio messages to London. Beyond her wireless duties, that included reporting on German troop movements and organizing arms and supply drops, she actively participated in missions with members of the French Resistance against the German occupiers and was involved in a gun battle in the small town of Olivet just south of Orléans.

Diana Rowden - WAAF


Diana Hope Rowden (31 January 1915 – 6 July 1944) was a British heroine of World War II who served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and the Special Operations Executive. Rowden was a member of SOE's Acrobat circuit in occupied France during World War II where she operated as a courier until arrested by the Gestapo. She was subsequently executed at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

Yvonne Rudellat - FANY


Yvonne Claire Rudellat MBE, Croix de Guerre, (née Cerneau, 11 January 1897 – 23 or 24 April 1945) was a member of the French Section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II and was the first female SOE-trained agent to go to France. After working with the Resistance for a year she was captured and died in Bergen-Belsen just after its liberation by the Allies.

Violette Szabo - FANY


Violette Reine Elizabeth Szabo GC (née Bushell; 26 June 1921 – 5 February 1945) was a French/British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent during the Second World War and a posthumous recipient of the George Cross. On her second mission into occupied France, Szabo was captured by the German army, interrogated, tortured and deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany, where she was executed.

Mem 10.
United Nations Partisan Forces Korea 1950-1953


The United Nations Partisan Infantry Korea (UNPIK), also known as the White Tigers, was a unit during the Korean War that was consolidated under the control of Eighth United States Army, Korea's 8th Army G-3 Miscellaneous Group, 8086th and 8240th Army Unit. The details of the undercover operation were made public by the US Army in 1990. The unit worked deep inside North Korea to gather intelligence, conduct raids and sabotage, rescue POWs, recruit and lead guerrilla armies and create confusion in the enemy's rear.

Lieutenant L S Adams-Acton

Leo Samuel Adams-Acton was born on the 19th October 1929 and enlisted in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. He served with the American Special Forces as a seconded officer of the Special Air Service. He was captured in North Korea in April 1951 but was killed by prison guards as he was escaping in 1953. He was awarded the Military Cross for his work behind enemy lines. He has no known grave. Major W E Anderson

Sergeant. C H Lane

Sergeant D M Sharp

14472846: Intelligence Sgt (later Major) David Sharp, BEM: Born Hackney 12.1.28. Formerly Malay Scouts, then HQ 29th Indep. Infantry Brigade Group att. 1st bat. Royal Northumb. Fus.: In Korea at time of capture was with UN Partisan Forces Korea (UNPFK) behind the lines - last and 946th POW to be released in Sept. 1953 aged 25 years, Volunteered Sept. 1945 as a regular in Malaya. Captured at Imjin River 25.4.51, three times wounded. Awarded BEM (Military) for “gallant and distinguished services whilst a POW in Korea” and US Gallantry Award. Made several attempts to escape and was in fact engaged on an escape near the end of his captivity. Was incarcerated in the notorious “wooden boxes” and gave up the chance of a GC award because as senior NCO, he recommended a comrade, Fus. Derek Kinne, in his stead. Arrived home on troopship “Dilwara” at Southampton. WIA/MIA and beaten badly by guards; charged as a war criminal because he refused to give information.

Sergeant J N Wells

Fusilier G Mills

Memorial 11.
Escape Lines Memorial Society - Home Run Memorial Stone WW2


The WW2 Escape Lines Memorial Society is dedicated to the ‘helpers’, escapers and evaders who either organised or used the escape lines of mainland Europe during WW2. Our membership is made up of former WW2 ‘helpers’, escapers and evaders, their families and friends, historians, researchers, and others who are interested in our aims. Our aim is to preserve and commemorate the memory of the ‘helpers’ of the escape lines and of the ‘helpers’ who worked alone, in order to teach successive generations about their vital role in WW2. Without those brave people, many Allied soldiers and airmen, who found themselves stranded behind enemy lines, would not have been able to return to the UK to continue the common fight for freedom; they would have been captured, or dead. They have never forgotten the people who helped them. The ‘‘helpers’’ of the escape lines aided Allies of many nationalities by sheltering, feeding, nursing, and guiding them – they did this at great cost to themselves and their families – many paid with their lives for their selfless acts of humanity and courage towards total strangers.

Memorial 12.
Major Maurice Budd MC - V Special Force Burma and Royal Sussex Regiment WW2.

Maurice served on attachment with V Force in Burma in 1945. V Force was an intelligence-gathering unit established by the British Army in Burma. V Force was originally formed in 1942 to act as ‘stay-behind’ guerilla force. As the war drew on and the Allies had the Japanese on the run in Burma, V Force began to act more aggressively to gather intelligence and set up ambushes.


During the period 16 February to 15 May 1945 Capt. M.A.J. Budd operating continuously with clandestine small patrols behind in the RAMREE & TAUNGUP – SANDOWAY areas has provided a constant flow of valuable information regarding enemy concentrations and movement. On one occasion knowing that the enemy were aware of his presence behind their lines and were hunting him, he remained and completed his task and then succeeded in withdrawing his patrol without loss. Throughout Capt. Budd has performed his duties with unfaltering steadfastness and without personal regard, displaying a standard of courage and devotion to duty of a high order. I strongly recommend him for the award of the Military Cross. Maurice did not receive his medal and unfortunately died on the 23rd November 1945.

Memorial 13.
Major John Sehmer - Special Operations Executive WW2


John Sehmer was recruited into the SOE from the Royal Tank Regiment in January 1943. In April 1943 he was in charge of the SOE mission to the Royal Serbian Army in Yugoslavia. He was withdrawn in May 1944 in preparation for "Operation Windproof" and parachuted into Czechoslovakia during September 1944. Subsequently he was instructed to become head of the British Mission to the Slovak National Uprising. The Germans immediately resisted this uprising and he was captured along with the United States OSS mission with Naval Officer Lt. James Holt Greene and two others just after Christmas 1944. After capture he sent to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and executed in January 1945. He was remembered here by his family on June 6th 2015.

Memorial 14.
David Haughton Finlayson ~ French Special Operations Executive


At the age of 20 David (alias Guilleune) was dropped into enemy occupied France on the 3rd March 1944 as part of Operation Liontamer. His role as a wireless radio operator was vital to the operations success. However he was captured on landing due to German intelligence agents who had infiltrated the resistance circuit who were there to help him. After interrogation at Fresnes Prison in Paris he was sent to Grose Rosen concentration camp and executed between 1st August and 30th September 1944. This memorial was dedicated in 2008 by his sister and brother.

Memorial 15.
138 & 161 Squadrons RAF Memorial - RAF Tempsford

 138 & 161 RAF
 138 & 161 RAF  138 & 161 RAF

RAF Tempsford was a Royal Air Force station located 2.3 miles north east of Sandy, Bedfordshire, England and 4.4 miles south of St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, England. As part of the Royal Air Force Special Duty Service, the airfield was perhaps the most secret airfield of the Second World War. It was home to 138 (Special Duty) Squadron and 161 (Special Duty) Squadron, which dropped supplies and agents into occupied Europe for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). 138 (SD) Squadron did the bulk of the supply and agent drops, while 161 (SD) Squadron had the Lysander flight, and did the pick-up operations in occupied Europe.

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