While it was technically created in July 1940, the SOE (Special Operations Executive) had come together in 1938 with the combination of three current, top secret sections shortly after Germany annexed Austria. Churchill’s Secret Army was instructed to “Set Europe Ablaze”.
SOE operatives were directed to various Nazi occupied countries to simultaneously cause destruction behind German lines and in addition start to locate local resistance groups they would likely work with once the occasion for invasion came. Theatres of Operation involved France, Belgium, Poland, Germany, Yugoslavia, Greece, Hungary, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Denmark, Romania, Abyssinia and the Far East.
As operatives operated deep in occupied countries and they were chosen from several social class and background. The most important requirement was that the prospective agent had comprehensive expertise of the nation they would work in and could pass as a local of that country. That is why, operatives in possession of dual nationality were highly desirable.
The renowned plane utilised by the SOE in France was the Westland Lysander. It was a small airplane which made it a great deal more challenging to observe and was sturdy enough to land on makeshift landing strips. It was used to ferry agents to and from the Britain along with collecting men and women who needed to be interviewed in London. Pilots who had been shot down were also typically brought back to the Britain by Lysander.
Amid the SOE group were also female agents and around 30% of the female operatives delivered into France from Section F, did not survive. The types of operations in each region were wide ranging. For example, in Poland, there was limited need to stir up the local population as there was already common hatred of the Nazis. This was in comparison to areas such as Vichy France where some locals worked with with the Germans and the probability of SOE operatives being betrayed was considerably increased.
For the duration of World War II, the SOE had made use of around 13,000 people who directly supported or provided somewhere in the region of 1 million operatives.
The SOE played a important role in World War II primarily in Europe but in other parts of the world too.
Today, the Polish city of Gdansk is a fashionable tourist destination. Along with it is adjoining towns of Sopot and Gdynia, people travel here to take delight in the beaches, ambiance and way of life. It’s location on the Baltic has meant that Gdansk being among the most important ports in Northern Europe.
Formerly known as Danzig, the metropolis was the topic of dispute among Germany and Poland and it also was here that the opening shots of World War II were unleashed as Germany officially annexed the urban centre and incorporated into Prussia.
Soon after World War II, Poland fell under control of the Soviet Union and became a key place in the Soviet ship construction programme. Gdansk had been a very busy shipyard on the Baltic coast and it had been in the Lenin Shipyards where Lech Walesa’s Solidarity Union was formed in 1980. It was the first union in any Warsaw Pact country that was not in the control of the Communist Party.
Under pressure from Moscow, the Polish government tried to eliminate Solidarity by arresting vital union people and imposing Martial Law. However, the Polish people were in no mood to be subdued and Solidarity became a nation wide movement, in due course forcing the government into talks in 1989. The union was critical in the beginning of the fall of Communism and the report of their activities can be found in the Solidarity Museum. Addititionally there is a memorial in Gdansk to the 45 shipyard workers who were killed in the protests in opposition to the Communist regime in 1970.
Now, Gdansk is a charming city with lots of heritage with the energetic buzz of a modern day urban centre. A good number of of the old architectural structures wrecked in the war have been reconstructed and there are loads of cafes, restaurants and dance clubs to rest thought the night. It has also been chosen as a host city for the Euro 2012 Finals with the newly constructed PGE Arena scheduled to have 3 group matches and a quarterfinal match.
Gdansk is one of the more important ports on the Baltic and it was here in the shipyards of the city where Communism began to fall apart. It is also one of the host venues for the Euro 2012 Championships.
The Euro 2012 Championships will be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. The tournament is the final one to be 16 teams as the following one in 2016 will expand to 24 teams. Poland and Ukraine defeated Italy and Croatia/Hungary for the right to host the tournament.
The fixtures will basically be split 50/50 between the two hosts. Polish cities to have games will be Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw and Poznan. The Ukrainian venues will be Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk.
The final will take place in Kiev which will also have a semi-final. This will be at the Olimpiysky National Sports Complex which after construction will be one of the best stadia and sporting complexes across the globe. The new arena in Warsaw is also being built and guarantees to be a state of the art arena.
The draw for the competition has been done and qualifying games will get going following the 2010 World Cup. Each of the 9 group winners and the best runner-up will gain direct entry into the competition. Following that the other 8 runner-up will be drawn into two-legged playoffs.
From Group A you would guess Germany and Turkey would be too powerful with Austria and Belgium being the contenders. Group B looks to be a 3 way contest involving Russia, Slovakia and Ireland.
In Group C it looks like it will be a piece of cake for Italy and Serbia. France is the favorite from Group D with Romania looking at the one to take 2nd.
There is a northern European vibe to Group E where it should be Netherlands and Sweden.
Croatia and Greece are the likely challengers with regards to Group F as are England and Switzerland for Group G.
From Group H it looks like Portugal and Denmark and last of all from Group I it would look like Spain and the Czech Republic.
Qualifying comes to an end in October 2011 by which time enthusiasm and anticipation for the Euro 2012 Championships will be well and truly underway.
Second to the World Cup, the European Championships is the largest football tournament on the planet. Euro 2012 will be jointly hosted by Ukraine and Poland.
Just after 1am on 26th April 1986 approximately 100km north of Kiev, the number 4 reactor in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded dispatching a cloud of radioactive debris into the atmosphere. Just one person perished in the initial explosion but over time, it is deemed nearly 500,000 people have died due to the effects of radiation immediately after the explosion.
The tale of the terrible chain of events is documented in the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev that did not merely have an affect on folks in Ukraine but in addition Belarus, regions of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Coupled with presenting the explanation for the melt down along with its horrendous repercussions, the Chernobyl museum has plenty of private objects from folks who worked in the plant together with pilots and firemen that served contain the fallout and seal off the reactor. You’ll find images of the power plant along with the people involved with the containment and cleanup process.
The museum may be somewhat challenging to locate. The easiest way should be to take the metro (blue line) to Kontraktova Ploshchad and it is one or two streets away. The address is 1 Kharyvyj Pereulok and this street goes in between Khoryva Street and Spaska Street. Left from the entry is a commemorative sculpture and off to the right are two or three recovery vehicles. Entry for the museum was 2UAH plus the rent of the audio commentary was an extra 5UAH. Languages offered were English and German.
The visit around the museum needs around 1 hour and it is worth a tour regardless if you are arranging a tour out to Chernobyl or not. Having a street map of Kiev and a little preparation, a visit to the museum can quite simply be a part of a day’s sightseeing about the metropolis.
If you would like to take an excursion to Chernobyl, there are a number of tour operators who offer tours but these must be arranged in advance.
The city of Kiev was lucky to escape the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster and in 2012 it will host the European Championships final.
The Middle East has had a diverse standing in Europe. On one side it has wealthy and flourishing lands with oil, but on other side there are also the difficulties which blight the continent. The Middle East contains countries like Iraq, Bahrain, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Syria.
The region which is called the Greater Middle East comprise the Afghanistan, and Algeria, the region considered the ?Horn of Africa? comprise Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea. Undoubtedly, this is the land of great culture, which lures the European tourist, though it is always recommended that you do good research before coming here. Take care of all the safety concerns. Provided that you tour with a trustworthy tour operator, you are ensured of a safe trip.
Depending on your destination, there can be many or few flights; such as Dubai, being a popular destination has many flights from UK and there is a competition among Airlines. The other location such as Iran may have very few flights and a good tour operator is a must. Some of the popular airlines that that operate flights to Middle East area are Emirates, Virgin, KLM, Qatar Airlines, and Continental.
Remember that these countries are Islamic countries, so this means that you will need to observe certain social rules; for example you should keep legs and shoulders covered when outdoors although there are various different rules depending on the country you visit. Dubai for example is comfortable with Western tourist, but somewhere like Iran will be stricter. You will need to check the current security levels before travelling as a British passport may not always be suitable for entry into all of the countries.
The Middle East climate is a very hot and has many deserts. Some parts of the area face droughts, however there are some productive areas, with forests and lush greenery, based on your time of visit. In the summer months, the temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius; carrying a sun protection becomes very essential, also you may have to face a grimy type of humidity.
The Middle East area is has much to explore; Jordan is one among the modern cities of Middle East. Tourists will find abundant architecture and food like kebabs, and national dishes, which may be well-known by the European tourist.
In Dubai there are plenty of shops and beaches; there are also pubs and bars for people to enjoy due to the more relaxed drinking laws, although as an Islamic country, there are still prayer times throughout the day. Dubai also has many art galleries with Arabic artefacts, so you can escape from the beaches if you want!
The city of Israel on the other hand, has several churches and the bible lands, to explore; here you will also find popular attractions which include The Tower of David Museum, Baha?I Shrine, Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, Yad Vashem, and the Gardens in Haifa. You may also try out the regional cuisine of Israel, the bagels, pickles, and kebabs.
Graham McKenzie is the content coordinator for Bestukflights.co.uk the UK’s premier flight and travel comparison portal which includes a detailed section on Travel and Flights to Venice