Dr Claire M. Hubbard-Hall
Second World War
I am keen to ensure that my research is brought to life in an accessible way and enjoyed by as many people as possible. So, as well as the books that I am writing and those that I have planned, I will, over time, share snippets of my research via a range of different audio/visual media. The above short film presentation provides an overview of the Secret War and will hopefully provide you with a sense of why I am interested in the fascinating accounts of intricate espionage operations, ingenious traitors and the complex system of coded wartime communications – enjoy!
I specialise in Second World War Intelligence History and have an endless curiosity for spies, spycraft and society. I gained a PhD from the University of Hull and secured my first permanent academic position at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln (UK) where I am a Senior Lecturer in History.
I am a strong supporter of Women Also Know History - an important endeavour which champions the work of women historians, raising awareness of their contributions. Further biographical information along with a list of my publications can be found HERE
My interest in the secret world of spies and wartime skulduggery began with my doctoral research on the Gestapo spy network, which focused on paid spies working for the Nazis' infamous state secret police. Working with post-war allied intelligence files, I began to wonder about the Allied intelligence officers compiling such paperwork, posing questions such as: Who worked in wartime intelligence? How did day-to-day operations work? How did theory and practice collide in the field? What were their motivations, characteristics, identities, and mentalities? How did they maintain complete secrecy during the war? And, how do former insiders narrate and make sense of their experiences?
I then set about refining my methods and skills of analysis, adopting social and cultural approaches to the histories of intelligence and wartime societies. Adopting a “bottom-up approach”, my research unravels the truth behind the lies and deception that shaped the secret war, exploring the lives of those involved such as spies, spymasters and secret armies; code breakers and secret listeners who worked tirelessly in clandestine sites such as Bletchley Park and Trent Park; and operatives responsible for psychological warfare and black propaganda schemes. My enquiries also extended to the collective endeavours of secretaries employed by wartime intelligence services, and to those women married to intelligence personnel, whose ‘voices’ usually remain strangely absent from wartime histories.
Working in collaboration with Dr. Adrian O’Sullivan, another investigative intelligence historian, we have begun to adopt social history approaches to such areas, examining the experience of women married to wartime operatives, retrieving their ‘voices’ and writing them into the historical narrative. In an attempt to identify points of encounter, connection and experience within expanding and contracting covert spaces, we have also scrutinised the significance of geographic location and its influence on intelligence organisation and operations. More recently, a joint exploratory research project funded by a Janet Arnold Award from The Society of Antiquaries of London aims to explore the ways in which the Special Operations Executive (SOE) clothed and disguised its agents throughout the war, which will hopefully lead to a much bigger project on Dress and Deception during the Second World War.
So, exciting times lie ahead and this blog will hopefully serve a useful purpose in sharing my research in a fun and engaging way, illuminating the lives of all those connected or engaged in secret warfare during the Second World War.
I am happy to receive enquiries about potential talks, publications, consultancy work and media appearances.