I lived in Dorset House for a couple of months back in the late 80’s. Dark and gloomy, I couldn’t get out of the place fast enough. Today flats go in excess of a million pounds. Go figure!!
During my brief stay in Dorset House, I got to know the local area quite well. Next door at No. 1 Dorset Square, was the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Churchill’s brainchild for clandestine warfare, which trained brave men and women for highly dangerous undercover roles in occupied France. Today, No. 1 Dorset Square is appropriately the home of the Alliance Francaise, an organization with which I have been associated over the years.
Secret SOE agents were ferried back and forth between France and England in the unarmed Lysander aircraft. Flying low and slow they could evade enemy radar and their heavy landing gear allowed for short take-offs and landings on improvised airstrips throughout France.
Non descript memorial hung on an obscure wall of the Museum of Natural History that I spotted during a recent visit. During the war, with real estate at a premium, the SOE sealed off several of the exhibition halls at the Museum for training and preparation of agents.
Camp X, the college of knowledge for Ian Fleming, was the base for SOE operations in Canada. What a treat to have visited both Camp X and Dorset Square in the same month!!