A Gladio-style "stay-behind" network in Britain

Television notes

by Stephen Hewitt

Programme details

"The Real Dad's Army", produced & directed by Jane Cameron

This programme was broadcast in England on Channel 4 Television starting 21:00 on Monday 13 March 2006. It was the third in a three-part series.


The reason that this programme is noted here is that it describes the setting up in Britain of a secret Gladio-style "stay-behind" network under the pretext of the threat of a German invasion. (For an introduction to Gladio, see these newspaper articles).

Although the recent book "NATO's secret armies operation Gladio and terrorism in Western Europe", Daniele Ganser, Frank Cass, 2005 briefly mentions the setting-up of this network (page 43 - 44) most of chapter 4, "The secret war in Great Britain", concerns the creation, support and training from within Britain of such networks in continental Europe. Conspicuously absent is any question of the possibility post-war networks in Britain. The following quote is from page 45:

Swiss Gladiators during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s trained in Great Britain under British Special Forces instructors. Training, according to Swiss military instructor and alleged Gladio member Alois Hürlimann, also included non-simulated real action operations against IRA activists, probably in Northern Ireland. This Hürlimann carelessly revealed in Switzerland during an English Language course conversation hour when in poor English he reported that in May 1984 he had taken part in secret trainings in England which had also included a real, non-simulated assault on an IRA arms depot, in which Hürlimann, fully dressed in battle fatigues, had participated, and in which at least one IRA activist had been killed.33

The source of this (second hand) information, Ganser's reference 33, he provides as "Urs Frieden, Die England Connection,. PUK EMD: P26 Geheimarmist Hürlimann im Manöver.In: Swiss weekly Wochenzeitung, November 30, 1990."

Any additional information about such a network in Britain is therefore interesting, even if the secret network that is the subject of this programme seems likely to have been superseded after the war. Of course, it is quite possible that there is no post-war network in Britain. However, given the long list of countries in which such a network was created - and Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Greece and Turkey each have a chapter in Ganser's book (and that list does not include Switzerland) - that possibility does not seem very likely.

According to the listings magazine tv choice, this programme will be broadcast again on Saturday 18 March 2006 on digital terrestrial channel "More4".

Incidentally, broadcast last year was another programme on this topic, with interviews with some of the same participants: "Hitler's Britain", Channel 5, 20:00 24 May 2005

Selected credits

presenter Francis Pryor

archive researcher Michael Matwiejczyk

researcher Lucy Cohen

associate producer Zara Akester

editor Dermot O'Brien

executive producer Roy Ackerman

series producer Joseph Maxwell

produced and directed by Jane Cameron

diverse production for Channel 4

Diverse Productions Ltd MMV1

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