Orchard Court and SOE’s French Section during WW2

Orchard Court near Portman Square London W1, was commandeered for war service in 1940 and its use was a closely guarded secret and only became known during the 1960s.

To hide the location of the headquarters of SOE’s French Section even from their agents, outgoing and incoming agents were briefed and debriefed at flat 3 Orchard Court. The section used a large car with blinds over the rear windows to hide agents leaving Orchard Court through the archway as they made their way to an airfield to infiltrate France by parachute or flown to Gibraltar where they were transported to southern France by felucca flying a neutral flag.

Berlin was aware of the interior of the building even down to the black and white tiled bathtub in the briefing flat but wrongly believed Orchard Court was the headquarters of a secret British military organisation. The information is thought to have been obtained from an agent under torture.

Alan Malcher