Dr Roderick Bailey


My current research looks at international responses to outbreaks of epidemic disease in Italy in 1943-44, Germany in 1945, Palestine in 1948 and Korea in 1951, with a particular focus on vector control and the movement and management of human populations. With support from Oxford’s Fell Fund, I am also researching international practices of cultural heritage protection in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean during and immediately after the Second World War. My books include studies of the wartime work of Britain’s Special Operations Executive in the Balkans and Italy, and I am currently preparing for publication a further monograph examining SOE’s efforts to address the psychological pressures to which its personnel were exposed across the globe.

Featured Publication

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.



  • Special Operations: A Hidden Chapter in the Histories of Facial Surgery and Human Enhancement

  • Written Evidence to the UK Government Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (‘UK Biological Security Strategy’)

  • Narrowed Minds and Destroyed Communities: Anglo-American Perceptions of Jewish Heritage in Thessaloniki, 1943–46

  • Toward Control? The Prospects and Challenges of Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine Introduction.

  • Review of J Peakman, Hitler's Island War: The Men Who Fought For Leros

  • D’Artois [née Butt], Sonia Esmée Florence [Toni] (1924–2014)

  • La Missione Britannica per la resistenza Albanese: Un punto di vista degli alleati sull’esperienza degli Italiani in Albania, 1943-1944

  • Macpherson, Sir (Ronald) Thomas Stewart (1920–2014)

  • Clark, Sir Robert Anthony (1924–2013)

  • Jackson, Margaret Wallace (1917–2013)

  • 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.

In the Media

My recent work on television and radio includes contributions to the following:

BBC Radio 3: ‘Alexander Korda: Producer, Director, Exile, Spy’ (19 May 2019)

BBC2: ‘WWI’s Secret Shame: Shell Shock’ (16 November 2018)

BBC2 and Netflix: ‘Secret Agent Selection: WW2’ (April-May 2018) I was the historical consultant on this 5-part series, which drew heavily on my research (sponsored by the Wellcome Trust) on wartime techniques of personality testing, personnel selection and training

BBC4: ‘The Ruth Ellis Files’ Episode 3 (15 March 2018)

BBC Radio 4, ‘Document’ (4 December 2017)

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

Social Media

Twitter: @roderick_bailey