Dr Roderick Bailey

My previous work includes major studies of Allied support to resistance movements in Italy and Albania during the Second World War. Recently, as a Wellcome Trust research fellow at Oxford, I completed a study of personnel selection and mental health among British, US, and Australian special forces in wartime Europe and the Pacific. I am particularly interested in the intersection of medicine with irregular forms of warfare, and one of my current research projects explores the work of Allied medical officers attached to wartime guerrilla movements, while another explores the participation of medical practitioners in the handling and interrogation of ‘high value’ military prisoners. I am also interested in aspects of Allied involvement in relief, reconstruction and the protection of cultural heritage in the Mediterranean at the end of the Second World War.


  • Psychiatrists and Secret Agents.

  • THE SECRET WAR Spies, codes and guerrillas 1939-1945

  • The secret scalpel: plastic surgery for wartime disguise.

  • YEAR ZERO A history of 1945

  • Target Italy : the Secret War Against Mussolini, 1940-1943 : the Official History of SOE Operations in Fascist Italy

  • Forgotten Voices of the Victoria Cross

  • Forgotten Voices of D-Day:

  • Forgotten Voices of the Secret War

  • The Wildest Province: SOE in the Land of the Eagle

  • Communist in SOE: Explaining James Klugmann's Recruitment and Retention

  • More

"Miracle men: Clandestine British medical officers in Greece during the Nazi Occupation" (Annual Archive Lecture, British School of Athens - 17 December 2014)

Roderick Bailey tells us about Target: Italy (23 June 2014)

The Second World War: Shellshock to Psychiatry (Gresham College - 25 April 2014)

The One Show (5 October 2012)

Target: Italy: The Secret War Against Mussolini 1940-1943 (Faber & Faber 2014)

Target: Italy

Drawing on long-classified documents, Target: Italy (Faber & Faber, 2014) is the official history of the war waged by Britain's Special Operations Executive on Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italy. It is the first full account of SOE's clandestine efforts to strike at Italy and sever its alliance with Nazi Germany, and uncovers missions as remarkable as a plot to assassinate Mussolini and plans to arm the Mafia.

Target: Italy is also the first in-depth history of SOE's attempts at causing trouble inside an enemy country, as opposed to an enemy-occupied one. As such, it issues a sobering reminder of the terrible risks that foreign agencies can run when trying to encourage resistance to powerful authoritarian regimes.

This is a compelling tale of desperate daring and sacrifice, climaxing in one of the most extraordinary episodes of the Second World War: the delicate and dramatic dealings between the Allies and the Italians that led to Italy's surrender in 1943.

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