Dr Roderick Bailey

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

Target: Italy

Target: Italy is an in-depth study of the covert war waged on Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italy by Britain's Special Operations Executive. An official commission in the UK Government’s official history series, it is the first full account of SOE's clandestine efforts to strike at Italy and sever its alliance with Nazi Germany. It illuminates episodes as varied as plots to assassinate Mussolini, plans to arm the Mafia, and the delicate negotiations that led to Italy's surrender in 1943, and draws particular attention to the difficulties and dangers of fomenting resistance to well-entrenched authoritarian regimes.



Much of my work seeks to enrich understanding of the political and practical complexities and consequences of Allied involvement with, and assistance to, wartime movements of resistance and national liberation. My books include monographs on Allied interactions with resistance groups in Albania and Kosovo (2008) and Fascist Italy (2014).

My current research interests in this area include the medical features and psychological pressures of unconventional battlefields like these. I am also a member of the Oxford-based international collaborative project ‘Transnational Resistance, 1936-48,’ which has enabled me to look in greater depth at the global character of organisations like SOE and OSS.

I am interested, too, in medical interventions by military forces in times of conflict and humanitarian crisis, as well as past efforts to protect cultural heritage under threat from war and conflict. My current work for Oxford’s new Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities includes research into the handling by Allied forces of major outbreaks of disease in Italy during the Second World War. I am also engaged in research into the wartime work of the Allied Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) sub-commission and, in particular, its efforts to assist with the protection and preservation of classical sites and other cultural heritage in Greece.

  • "Salonika Fire: 18-19th August 1917"

  • Clark, Sir Robert Anthony (1924–2013)

  • Jackson, Margaret Wallace (1917–2013)

  • Psychiatrists and Secret Agents.

  • Book review - B. Macintyre, 'SAS, Rogue Heroes: The Authorized Wartime History'

  • Book review - D. Brewer, 'Greece: The Decade of War'

  • Book review - U. Schmidt, 'Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments'

  • Article review - R. Jeffreys-Jones, 'Inter-Allied Commando Intelligence and Security Training in Gwynedd: The Coates Memoir'

  • The Special Operations Executive and the Use and Abuse of Peacetime Technology

  • Book review - M. Hastings, 'The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939-1945'

  • More

I currently teach:


  • Methods and Themes in the History of Medicine
  • Medicine and Modern Warfare


  • Medicine, Empire and Improvement

I would be willing to hear from potential Masters and DPhil students with interests in the Second World War, intelligence, resistance, and the study of modern war and medicine.

BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme (14 November 2016): feature on war and archaeology

"Stress and 'Special Operations': SOE operatives in Nazi-occupied Greece and the Strain of Clandestine Warfare" (Lecture at the British School at Athens, May 2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lja_kDMnQHE

BBC2: Portillo’s State Secrets (May 2015): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tthny5tluvk

“‘Miracle Men’: Clandestine British Medical Officers in Greece during the German Occupation” (Lecture at the British School at Athens, December 2014):

“The Second World War: From Shellshock to Psychiatry” (Lecture at Gresham College, April 2014):

BBC1: The One Show (December 2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tthny5tluvk

List of site pages