We’ve heard and read about the female agents that braved the Nazis in occupied Europe with many paying the ultimate price. But there has been precious scant attention paid to these brave women on film. That’s beginning to change with A Call to Spy.

Although the film had been released just about only two months ago, we first came across it while digging for a story on Vera Atkins, one of the main characters portrayed in the film. 

A Call to Spy was directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher and written and produced by Sarah Megan Thomas. The film examines the extraordinary stories of Virginia Hall, Vera Atkins, and Noor Inayat Khan. These women answered the call issued by the U.K. government and put their lives on the line for the war effort. 

After the Nazis swept across Western Europe in the early days of World War II, the Brits stood alone, before Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and foolishly declared war on the United States. In the early summer of 1940, Winston Churchill put out the recruitment call for the British intelligence services, as there was little usable information coming out of the occupied countries, especially France. 

That’s when the Special Operations Executive (SOE) was born. It was placed under the auspices of Hugh Dalton the Minister of Economic Warfare. Its mission was to conduct espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance in occupied Europe, and to aid local resistance movements against the Nazis.

SOE was also known by several pseudonyms, including the “Baker Street Irregulars,” (Baker Street being the location of its London headquarters), “Churchill’s Secret Army,” or, the most widely used, “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.”

Increasingly, the British started using women, first as couriers, as they’d be less conspicuous in occupied France, but also as agents and wireless operators.

Therefore, Atkins is tasked with recruiting female agents by her boss Maurice Buckmaster who’s played in the film by Linus Roache of Law and Order fame. Atkins is excellently played by the talented Stana Katic, who also played in Absentia.