The Man Who Saved London

Title:                      The Man Who Saved London

Author:                George Martelli

Martelli, George (1961). The Man Who Saved London: The Story of Michel Hollard, D. S. O., Croix de Guerre. New York: Doubleday

LCCN:    61009534

D810.S8 M3 1961



  • Published in the UK as Agent Extraordinary: The Story Of Michel Hollard. London: Collins, 1960

Date Updated:  May 3, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

Hollard was a genuine but not too well-known hero of World War II. Martelli has admiringly written his story, using reconstructed dialogue. Hollard organized on his own the network named Agir that eventually comprised up to one hundred persons collecting intelligence throughout France. He acted as principal agent and courier within France and to Switzerland, where he made forty-eight crossings to pass information to the British. Hollard’s net was the first to find a V1 site, located many others and produced the first complete plan of such a site. After some three years he was betrayed. Under captivity he underwent incredible horrors; he had managed, however, to arrange for his net to function without him. R. V. Jones in The Wizard War[2] writes of Hollard’s accomplishments against the V1, as does Garlinski in Hitler’s Last Weapons[3]. Garlinski is of the opinion that calling Hollard “the man who saved London” was exaggerated, since many contributed in various ways to defeat the German V weapons. In addition to being a story of “incredible courage” (General Horrocks), the book gives certain lessons in operations. Hollard’s net survived for a long period because it dispensed with many systems of communication and contact that create vulnerabilities to detection. Perhaps for reasons of discretion, Martelli does not have very much to say about the arrangement Hollard made in 1941 with his relative, General Guisan, the Swiss commander in chief, that allowed him entry into Switzerland in exchange for Hollard’s cooperation with Swiss military intelligence.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[4]

The account of how Michel Hollard and the French intelligence network specializing in technical intelligence targets, Reseau Agir, collected information on the technical aspects of V-1 flying bomb launch sites.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 316-317

[2] Jones, R. V. (1978). The Wizard War: British Scientific Intelligence, 1939-1945. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan

[3] Garlinski, Jozef (1978). Hitler’s Last Weapons: The Underground War Against The V1 and V2. New York: Times Books

[4] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 112


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One Response to The Man Who Saved London

  1. Pingback: Scientific and Technical Intelligence, Chapter 10 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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