Alexander Vass: SOE Hungarian Section wireless operator

Alexander Vass was born in Limburg, Germany, he spoke fluent Hungarian and was a child when his family moved to Canada and became naturalised Canadians.

 In early 1943 Vass enlisted into the Royal Canadian Medical Corp and several months later he came to the attention of SOE’s Hungarian Section who were looking for agents who could speak fluent Hungarian and after passing selection and training in England he went on to pass the wireless and security course at Thames House in Oxfordshire.

Vass and three other agents boarded a converted Halifax bomber of 148 Special Duty Squadron RAF to be dropped by parachute north of Lake Balaton in western Hungary and after the aircraft failed to return it was assumed all had been killed.

Several months after the war it was discovered the Halifax had been intercepted by German night fighters and Luftwaffe documents stated the aircraft exploded after hitting the ground and all the crew were killed.  After three SOE agents were liberated from a German prisoner of war camp Alexander Vass was not among them and the three surviving agents later described what happened.

They were not aware the aircraft had been lost because the agents had been dropped before its interception. One agent named Broughay said they had been dropped at the wrong location and landed in a forest and he found himself about 30 feet up a tree and there was no way of concealing their presence. After splitting up into two groups he and Vass avoided enemy forces for over 24 hours but were eventually captured, stripped searched and interrogated. They were then taken down a hill where the other two agents were in custody and were told they would be shot. The three agents were then taken to a Secret Police Headquarters were the interrogation continued and the following morning were put into the back of a lorry and were greatly relieved after finding themselves at a German Prisoner of War Camp controlled by the Luftwaffe.

During an allied air raid sometime in December 1944 a bomb hit the camp and Alexander Vass was killed.

Alan Malcher

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

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