FEATURED ARTIFACT: SOE SUITCASE RADIO
Beginning in 1941, the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) and the American OSS (Office of Strategic Services) intelligence agencies both parachuted agents into occupied Europe to gather intelligence and organize resistance forces. Communication networks were critical for these agents, but so was the need for secrecy. One solution was the suitcase radio. Compact and capable of being adapted to many power supplies, the whole radio fit neatly into a small suitcase. The suitcase was dropped to agents by parachute in an airtight container. The British Type 3 Mark II suitcase radio set was the most common set in use by clandestine operatives in Europe between 1943 and 1945. The set was designed to send and receive messages by Morse code rather than voice transmission. The radio had a range of over 500 miles. It was the smallest transceiver (transmitter and receiver combined) during World War II.
The National World War II Museum Inc., 2008.472
Painting of Virginia Hall:
This painting shows the spy Virginia Hall in a barn in France in 1944 transmitting secret messages on a suitcase radio with the aid of a bicycle powered generator. Hall was from a wealthy Baltimore family and spoke several languages, but both her gender and a hunting accident around 1932 in which she lost a leg inhibited her serving with the US State Department. Hall lived in Europe at the dawn of World War II and began working first for British Intelligence and then for the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS). She armed and trained Resistance workers and found safe houses for them and for downed Allied airmen. She orchestrated sabotage missions and established vital communication networks all while under German pursuit. For her heroism during these missions, Virginia Hall became the first woman awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1945. Officials unveiled this painting by Jeffrey W. Bass in Washington in December 2006, when Hall was posthumously honored by the British and French governments. The artist donated this copy to the Museum in 2008.
Gift of Jeffrey W. Bass, The National World War II Museum Inc., 2008.411