The Spy Toolkit

Published on
Published on
Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
The National Archive, Stephen Twigge
Other Publication Information
Hardback, 160 pages
Product / Stock #
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

The Spy Tool Kit is a great book! It covers the tools and weapons used by secret operating agents working behind the lines for both sides (Axis and Allied) during WWII. It covers the organizations involved, the agents themselves and their training as well as all manner of description of their tasks and goals. All the pictures and devices shown in this book are derived from the National Archive where many of the items are contained.

The contents of the book are:

  • Introduction
    • The organization, agents, training, sabotage, devices and gadgets, disguise, deception, communication, the Enemy (Axis forces) and notes about the book
  • The Spy Toolkit
    • Secret Agents
    • Sabotage: Explosive Devices
    • Booby Traps
    • Incendiary Devices
    • Disguise and Deception
    • Touching Base

Each section is lavishly illustrated with great black and white period photos and archive photos. The Spy Toolkit section contains photos of the agents used against Britain and gives a brief history of most under their pictures. The book really shines when it gets to the Sabotage section showing bomb laden candy bars, toiletries, wine bottles, eggs, belts, pens and soap . There is even rat with a bomb inside! All have great written explanations and show the intended use. Some really interesting and crazy stuff that was invented at the time.

The next pictorial contains booby traps enclosed in cans of fruit salad, talcum powder, brief cases and cigarettes. Many of these were recovered prior to use and are in the National Archive. This is followed with incendiary devices which could be found in candy, brief cases, thermoses and cigarettes.

In Disguise and Deception., there is pictures and descriptions of things such and Field Marshall Montgomery’s duplicate who was used to distract and fool German intelligence. There are fake tanks and soldiers which were meant to confuse enemy reconnaissance. There are also examples of how agents disguise themselves with clothes, wigs, fake teeth and makeup.

The chapter on touching base shows communication methods such as transmitters found inside apartments and briefcases. It is amazing how small they are for the time period. The Welbike is show- a small containerized motorcycle which could be air dropped and assembled quickly to provide transport.

All told, this book gives a great overview of the tools of the trade for spies in WWII. The pictures are superb and some would make great diorama possibilities. It is a fascinating read and highly recommended,

My thanks to Osprey and IPMS/USA for the much appreciated opportunity to review this book.


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