The spies who hunted Mussolini

At the height of the Second World War, Allied secret operatives schemed sabotage and assassinations in Fascist Italy – even targeting the Italian leader, Benito Mussolini. Roderick Bailey reviews new evidence revealing Britain's attempts to bring Il Duce's regime down from the inside

Benito Mussolini makes a speech. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

In 1944, Allied soldiers searching a police station near the shell-torn Italian town of Anzio discovered a year-old Italian document carrying an urgent warning. “Informing all concerned of a projected attempt on the life of Il Duce… alleged to be sponsored by the British,” it declared. The would-be assassin was described thus: “Height 1.77m, chest 86cm, wavy brown hair, long face, round chin, brown eyes, regular eyebrows, rosy complexion, defective teeth, age about 30, slim, low forehead.”

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