7 March 2016 | classicalsteve
Extremely Well-Acted and Entertaining Series About British-Female Spies in German-Occupied France
Suppose for a moment, you're a British female in German-occupied Western France around 1940 before the Americans entered the war. You're posing as a French national who is a trained nurse making house calls. However, that's just you're day job. You have a fake identity card and a fictitious history. In truth, you're actually a crackerjack radio operator specializing in Morse Code. Your task: to receive information about German military operations and movements through a network of the French Resistance in Normandy and Brittany and transmit the information via a Morse Code radio back to Britain. The surrounding area is being constantly surveyed by German soldiers headed by a German colonel who would probably prefer staying where he is rather than being sent to the Eastern Front of the war. In short, he's under as much pressure as you are to do his job. And then you're brought to his headquarters for a "routine" interrogation. Will the colonel accept your fake identification card, or will he suspect that you're in fact an agent working for the Allies? This is part of the set-up of a truly enjoyable British-produced series called "Wish Me Luck".
Liz Grainger (Kate Buffery) and Matty Firman (Suzanna Hamilton) are two females who desire to work for Special Operations Executive (SOE), the British equivalent of the CIA which operated predominantly during the Second World War. SOE's main function was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements. Liz and Matty first train in the British headquarters of SOE then are sent out into the field on missions nearly as dangerous as those fighting on the front-lines. In short, their tasks are to undermine German-controlled France by providing intelligence to the allies about possible war plans, missions, and strategies. If they're caught, they will probably be tortured for their information, sent to a death camp, or simply executed on the spot.
Of the two, Matty has the most crucial of jobs: to send as frequently as possible coded transmissions of intelligence through her radio back to Britain. Her cover, described above, is a French national nurse who simply makes rounds to patients in need of care. The tasks of her colleague, Liz Grainger also posing as a French national, is more subtle. She's there to support some of the different resistance members and spies by receiving and sending messages through the network, many of whom are of the French Resistance while others are from different countries and allegiances, including some communists. Some of these contacts include priests, bakers, and simple townsfolk, not all of whom are willing to cooperate because of previous altercations with the Germans. Like her colleague, she risks her cover being blown. She lived many years in France and speaks French without an English accent. Her messages are often hidden in places like the confessional of a church, or at a local shop.
Eventually Liz meets up with a French friend from her school days, Claudine de Valois, who was part of the French aristocracy and lends books out from her family's library. They concoct a cover story which includes Liz, posing as Celeste, having been in France her entire life, even though she's essentially a British citizen and not French. The German maintaining order and constantly sniffing out possible resistance operatives is Colonel Werner Krieger. He has become somewhat smitten with Claudine and constantly visits her small library. When Liz arrives at Claudine's library, he invites himself to tea with the two women who must act casually to maintain their cover stories. Luckily the colonel because of his infatuation with Claudine enjoys the women's company rather than trying to undercover whether the women's stories ring true. While the women act happy and nonchalant, inside they are terrified their covers could be revealed at any moment.
Overall a very enjoyable and compelling series about female spying, intelligence and espionage. While we often believe the real fighting of the Allies happened predominantly on the front lines, many others, both men and women, were engaged in extremely dangerous missions under cover. These people helped to support the Allies in their larger efforts to undermine the German stronghold on occupied countries. While the fighting of the soldiers was extremely important and not to be diminished, the spy network was at least equally as vital to the eventual destruction of the Third Reich.