Frank Thompson (SOE officer)

Major William Frank Thompson (17 August 1920 – 10 June 1944) was a British officer who acted as a liaison between the British Army and the Bulgarian partisans during the Second World War.

Frank Thompson
Major William Frank Thompson of SOE
Birth nameWilliam Frank Thompson
Born(1920-08-17)17 August 1920
Darjeeling, British India
Died10 June 1944(1944-06-10) (aged 23)
Litakovo, Kingdom of Bulgaria
Sofia War Cemetery
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1939–1944
UnitSpecial Operations Executive
Battles/warsSecond World War  
RelationsE. P. Thompson (brother)

Early life and education

Thompson was born in Darjeeling, Bengal Presidency, British India to a British missionary family. He was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford.[1] His younger brother, E. P. Thompson, was the English historian, socialist and peace campaigner.[2]

Second World War

In 1939, while studying at the University of Oxford, he became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain under the influence of his close friend Iris Murdoch. Despite his affiliation, he did not support the party's policy of neutrality dictated by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and joined the British Army with service number 124039 as a volunteer training with the No. 122 Officer Cadet Training Regiment before being commissioned Second Lieutenant into the Royal Artillery on 2 March 1940.[3] He served in England, North Africa, Syria, Iraq, Sicily, Serbia and Bulgaria. He was part of the Special Operations Executive.[4]

On 25 January 1944, along with three other commandos, Major Thompson was sent on a parachute landing mission to establish a link between the British staff and the Bulgarian partisans led by Slavcho Transki; he landed near Dobro Pole, Macedonia. The commandos carried a radio to keep in contact with the staff in Cairo, Egypt and Bari, Italy, but it broke down. On 23 May, Thompson took part in the clash at the village of Batuliya between the Bulgarian Gendarmerie and the Second Sofia Brigade of National Liberation of the partisans. He was wounded by the gendarmerie forces, captured and executed by firing squad in the nearby village of Litakovo.[5]

After the war and the establishment of a Communist government in Bulgaria, the nearby villages of Livage, Lipata, Tsarevi Stragi, Malak Babul, Babul and Zavoya were merged and renamed to Thompson in the British officer's honour.

E. P. Thompson wrote two books about his brother, the first with his mother, There is a Spirit in Europe: A Memoir of Frank Thompson. The second, Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944, appeared in 1996.[2][6][6][7]


Thompson Hill in Antarctica is named after Frank Thompson.


  1. Simms, Brendan (7 July 1997). "A major, a martyr, a train station". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  2. Rattenbury, A., 1997. Convenient Death of a Hero. Review of Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 by Thompson, E. P. London Review of Books [Online] vol. 19 no. 9 pp. 12–13. Available from [Accessed 2 March 2011].
  3. "No. 34806". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 March 1940. p. 1367.
  4. Kristen Ghodsee, The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015 ISBN 978-0-8223-5835-0
  5. Frank Thompson's grave in Litakovo:
  6. Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 by E. P. Thompson. Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp, £12.95, December 1996, ISBN 0-85036-457-4
  7. Brisby, Liliana (29 March 1997). "The ups and downs of Major Thompson". The Spectator.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.