Secret Army Exhibition

This exhibition tells the story of the British and overseas members of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who completed their secret training at the Beaulieu ‘Finishing School’ during World War ll.

Visitors to the exhibition will be reminded why Britain was drawn into WWll and will discover how a scenic and serene Hampshire village became the base for sabotage and subversion. The exhibition will introduce visitors to the training schools, instructors, secret agents and unsung heroes of the SOE. Further displays describe agents’ training, recount secret missions and their outcomes and provide a learning zone for younger visitors. An audio-visual presentation will show how the ‘Finishing School’ operated in total secrecy for four years.

Some 3,000 agents, including Andrée Borrell, Nancy Wake, Odette Sansom, Peter Churchill, Francis Cammaerts and Joachim Rønneberg, who later led the Gunnerside Mission to destroy the heavy water plant in Norway that was part of the German atomic bomb programme, were trained at a number of large country houses scattered across the Beaulieu Estate, before returning to occupied Europe to work with Resistance groups. Many paid the final sacrifice – and did not return.

This exhibition was opened by HRH The Princess Royal, patron of the Special Forces Club and Commandant-in-chief of the FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry).