Maurice Buckmaster; Spy Leader

<i> From Times Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Maurice Buckmaster, who trained and controlled Britain’s spies in half a dozen European countries under German control during World War II, has died at 90, the Times of London reported Monday.

The newspaper said he died Friday, but gave no cause of death. He lived in London and Sussex, south of the capital.

Buckmaster ran the F Section of the SOE, or Special Operations Executive, from 1941-45, commanding 400 agents.

At the war’s end, Allied commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said the section had helped shorten the war by six months. “It was the equivalent of 15 divisions,” he said.


Buckmaster was drawn into the intelligence service by his gift for languages, particularly French, which he learned as a schoolboy at Eton.

In 1941, he was put in charge of SOE’s Belgian section, and later the French section. Most of his agents were deployed around France to spy, sabotage and recruit French Resistance fighters, which they did with a high degree of success and at a high cost. More than 100 agents were killed.