Lt. Leslie Cusden, official photographer, with Karen allies at Bolo Auk 1945

The Men of SOE Burma page of this website has been a ‘work in progress’ for the best part of four years now. It is by far the most viewed page of my website:

1473 views in 2017

2509 view in 2018

3229 views in 2019

6061 views a week before Christmas in 2020.

It has brought so much benefit in terms of contact with families of the SOE men, and one woman, who served in Burma. I have been priviledged to have had photos and papers and unpublished memoirs and family stories shared with me that I simply would not have ever seen or known about if it wasn’t for the power of the internet. As a result, the page is much richer, and I know that the relatives of these men are pleased to see the exploits of their ancestors remembered – especially when Europe still gets the lion’s share of interest.

I really need to say a massive public ‘thank you’ to Steven Kippax, a man who has laboured in the archives for more than a decade, digitising anything and everything SOE. He has supplied me with many of the personnel files needed to complete this page, enabling me to keep the momentum going especially in 2020.

As of 18 December 2020, there are 593 names on the Roll of Honour. Here is a breakdown:

EthnicityNumber on the Roll
Burman / Bamar118
Karen89
Kachin96
Chin35
Shan8
Lahu1
Kuki1
Arakanese 8
Indian5
Chinese 22
Gurkha1
Shan Palaung1
Shan Burman34
Shan Kadu2
Gurkha Kachin1
Indo-Burman1
Anglo Indian1
Anglo-Burman7
Franco-Belgian1
Mauritian1
Southern Rhodesia1
South African1
Canadian7
British152 (inc. Mrs Hobbs)

This is obviously not exhaustive as an estimated 20,000 people fought with SOE in Burma. Here are some of the faces:

I have often asked myself why I bother spending so much time on this. I should be writing for publication, getting a second book out there, or submitting to journals. I’m still not totally sure of the answer or if there is only one, but…there is definitely something about getting to know the people, putting a face to names, getting closer to the humans involved. If I know one thing, it is that it has not been time wasted…