This is my fifth and final blog post on Operation Remorse, the secret Second World War operation for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) that earned millions for Britain.Â Read the entire series.
As the Second World War passed into its final year, Operation Remorse showed no sign of limiting its activities in China. Their lucrative black market currency dealings in Chinese National Dollars (CND) expanded to include Indian Rupees and Indo-Chinese Piastres. They also traded and smuggled more goods than ever â€“Â apart fromÂ designer watches, pearls and diamondsÂ smuggled inÂ for bribing Chinese officials, Remorse also traded in medical drugs, indigo, and cigarette paper.Â They even bought silkworm eggs for the Kashmir silk industry, to make parachute silk (HS 1/135, 4 Apr. 1945).
With Remorseâ€™s increasing reach and power came increasing worries for SOE. They found Remorseâ€™s enthusiastic and volatile leader, Walter Fletcher, â€˜hard to controlâ€™, and Remorseâ€™s use of its (already illegal) financial operations for bribery was highly sensitive and fraught with political difficulties. SOE decided to promote Fletcher to â€˜Fin.Wâ€™, responsible for â€˜Special Financial and Economic Operationsâ€™. By doing this they were putting him on aÂ shorterÂ leash, gripped tightly by John Venner, SOEâ€™s long-suffering head of Finance (HS 9/519/5, 17 Jan. 1945). Meanwhile, Remorse in the field was run by a board of fourÂ officers: Lionel Davis (Remorseâ€™s field commander),Â Alexander Anderson and Bernard PurserÂ (Remorseâ€™s senior accountants), and Edward Wharton-Tigar (one of Remorseâ€™s senior officers).