Buchenwald concentration camp

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WING COMMANDER FOREST FREDERICK EDWARD YEO-THOMAS – British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent

“The White Rabbit”

His action-packed life was the stuff of boyhood fantasy

Tommy Yeo-Thomas was dropped into occupied France three times and fell into the hands of the Paris SS and Gestapo. Brutally interrogated to the point of death for a total of over 6 months at the SS and Gestapo HQ at 84 Avenue Foch and Fresnes Prison, he told the Germans nothing. Transported to Buchenwald Concentration Camp he escaped and eventually made his way to the Allied lines.

Espionage has always been a business marked by deceit, betrayal, and frequently, death. The fate of a captured spy is usually brutal, and even relatively benign entities like the Allies dealt harshly with such individuals. Still, their treatment was relatively kind compared to the Nazis. The remarkable World War II?spy stories?include heroes and villains, loyalists and traitors, and the greatest World War II spies that were motivated by duty, principle,?or just plain money.

Forest Yeo-Thomas

Recruited: February 1942

Role: Deputy Head (RF Section)

Missions: SEAHORSE, MARIE CLAIRE, ASYMPTOTE

Codenames: Shelley, “The White Rabbit”

Fate: Captured, deported to Germany, survived

Forest Frederic Edward Yeo-Thomas (who went by F. F. E. Yeo-Thomas) was not your typical clich? espionage agent, photographing documents in the early morning hours behind the embassy doors of some darkened office. After serving for two years in the RAF during the Battle of Britain, Yeo-Thomas requested even more hazardous duty in occupied France serving as a liaison between the French government in exile and the Resistance.

On his third mission in 1944, he was betrayed to the Gestapo and was so badly mistreated that he developed blood poisoning from the shackles worn during his isolated confinement. After numerous escape attempts (which prompted the Gestapo nickname “the White Rabbit”), Yeo-Thomas was transported to Buchenwald. He survived eight more months of abuse, escaped from a work detail, and eventually lead other POWs to freedom in the final days of the war. Yeo-Thomas is recognised by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as “among the most outstanding workers behind enemy lines whom Britain produced”. Yeo-Thomas is also credited as the inspiration for the character James Bond.

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Photo Of The Day

Survivors gaze at photographer Margaret Bourke-White and rescuers from the United States Third Army during the liberation of Buchenwald, April 1945.

Survivors gaze at photographer Margaret Bourke-White and rescuers from the United States Third Army during the liberation of Buchenwald, April 1945.

Behind the Picture: The Liberation of Buchenwald, April 1945

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: AFP/NARA

Photo: AFP/NARA

Wedding Rings Taken From Concentration Camp Inmates

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