12/06 – Camp X

British SOE Agents who trained at Camp X. (JSTOR Daily)

On this day in 1941, Camp X began operations in Ontario, Canada. Officially named Special Training School No. 103, the camp was one of the primary locations for training British and Allied covert operators in the arts of deception, sabotage, and intelligence gathering during WWII. Although it was so well-hidden that Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was unaware of its true purpose, Camp X trained between 500 and 2,000 secret agents during the war. Infamous close-quarters combat instructor William E. Fairbairn – AKA Dangerous Dan – taught students to “Get down in the gutter, and win at all costs … no more playing fair … to kill or be killed.”

Notable alumnae Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming – authors of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the James Bond series – were trained in lock picking, foreign languages, demolitions, and communications (among other things) before being deployed on secret operations in support of the Allied war effort. Camp X – now little more than a plaque in a field – was instrumental in the Allied intelligence-gathering effort in the lead-up to D-Day and the assault on Berlin.

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