Secret Pigeon Service: Operation Columba, Resistance and the Struggle to Liberate Occupied Europe

Author(s): Gordon Corera


A riveting spy story set in World War Two. Using declassified documents and extensive original research, Secret Pigeon Service tells the dramatic untold story of MI 14(d) and its spy networks including the remarkable `Leopold Vindictive', a Belgian resistance cell who used the pigeon they found in 1941 to spy on the Nazis. Everyone has heard of MI5 and MI6. Some may even have heard of MI9 which helped downed airmen escape in World War II. But few will know of MI14(d) - the `Special Pigeon Service,' where Operation Columba was conceived. Between 1941 and 1944, sixteen thousand plucky pigeons were dropped in an arc from Bordeaux to Copenhagen as part of `Columba' - a secret British operation to bring back intelligence from those living under Nazi occupation. The messages flooded back attached to the pigeons - authentic voices from rural France, Holland, Belgium - sometimes comic, often tragic and some invaluable with details of German troop movements and fortifications. At the centre of this dramatic new book by BBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera is the `Leopold Vindictive' ring - a small group of Belgian villagers prepared to take huge risks to resist and how they were led by a priest for whom it was as if every step of his extraordinary life up to July 1941 had prepared him for his role as leader of this unlikely spy network. A powerful and tragic tale of wartime espionage, the book brings together for the first time the British and Belgian sides of the Leopold Vindictive story and reveals the wider history of a quirky, quarellsome band of spymasters and their special wartime operations. It is a book not just about pigeons but about the ordinary people who were faced with the choice of how to respond to a call for help, and took the decision to resist.


Available Stock:

Add to Wishlist

Product Information

Praise for `Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies': `Riveting ... Making use of excellent sources, Corera, the BBC's security correspondent, has produced a highly relevant read that addresses the key debate in intelligence gathering - the balance between privacy and security' Sunday Times `If you are looking for a clear and comprehensive guide to how communications have been intercepted, from cable-cutting in the First World War to bulk data collection exposed by Ed Snowden, this is it ... A most readable account of how computers and the internet have transformed spying' Guardian `What good timing for [this] book ... Gordon Corera's book takes us through the labyrinth of cyber-espionage ... It concerns a psychosis of control, whereby the digitisation of spying infests every cranny of our lives' Observer `Gordon Corera, best known as the security correspondent for BBC News, somehow finds time to write authoritative, well-researched and readable books on intelligence. Here he explores the evolution of computers from what used to be called signals intelligence to their transforming role in today's intelligence world. The result is an informative, balanced and revealing survey of the field in which, I suspect, most experts will find something new' Spectator `Never mind all those cold-war thrillers set in 1970s Berlin. The true golden age of spying and surveillance - whether carried out by states or, increasingly, by companies - is now' Economist Praise for `MI6: Life and Death in the British Secret Service': `A refreshing ... compelling read' Daily Express `His analysis is shrewd, his judgement sound ... [the book's] strength is to present stories of the secret service's successes and failures within the political and strategic context of the times' Sunday Times `The best post-1949 account of British intelligence I have read ... this is as good as it gets. And it's a good read' Spectator

Gordon Corera is a journalist and writer on intelligence and security issues. Since 2004 he has been a Security Correspondent for BBC News where he covers terrorism, cyber security, the work of intelligence agencies and other national security issues for BBC TV, Radio and Online. He has reported from across the United States, Asia, Africa and the Middle East and presented a number of programmes focusing on intelligence agencies including MI6, MI5, GCHQ, the CIA, NSA and Mossad. He is the author of `Intercept - The Secret History of Computers and Spies', `MI6 - Life and Death in the British Secret Service' and `Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity and the Rise and Fall of the AQ Khan Network'.

General Fields

  • : 9780008220310
  • : HarperCollins Publishers Limited
  • : William Collins
  • : January 2018
  • : 234mm X 153mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : January 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Gordon Corera
  • : Paperback
  • : 218
  • : 940.548641
  • : 336