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, particularly in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. My books include monographs on Allied interactions with resistance groups in Albania and Kosovo (2008) and Fascist Italy (2014). I have particular research interests in the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the global and diverse nature of their activities, and the psychological pressures at work on their personnel.

My research looks too at the history of humanitarian interventions in times of war and natural disaster, and past efforts to protect cultural heritage threatened by conflict and foreign occupation. My current work for Oxford’s Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities re-examines the famous handling by Allied forces of a major typhus epidemic in wartime Italy. With support from Oxford’s Fell Fund, I am also engaged in research into the wartime Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) sub-commission and its efforts to protect and preserve classical sites and other cultural heritage in Greece in 1944-46.

  • 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)

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

  • Psychiatrists and Secret Agents.

  • Review of B. Macintyre, 'SAS, Rogue Heroes: The Authorized Wartime History'

  • Review of D. Brewer, 'Greece: The Decade of War'

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

  • 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.

Historical consultant on current BBC2 five-part 'living history' series: "Secret Agent Selection: WW2", Mondays 20:00, starting 9 April 2018:
Much of it draws on research I did at Oxford a few years ago, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, where I was looking at wartime techniques of personality testing and personnel selection.

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

BBC Radio 4, Document (4 December 2017): The Gibraltar Diary of Squadron Leader Mallory: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09h2vsc

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

Twitter: @roderick_bailey

List of site pages