The Special Operations Executive (SOE) (sometimes referred to as "the Baker Street Irregulars") was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was initiated by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on July 22, 1940, to conduct warfare by means other than direct military engagement. Its mission was to encourage and facilitate espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines and to serve as the core of the Auxiliary Units, a British resistance movement.
It was also known as "Churchill's Secret Army" or "The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" and was charged by Churchill to "set Europe ablaze."
The SOE directly employed or controlled just over 13,000 people. It is estimated that SOE supported or supplied about 1,000,000 operatives worldwide.