John Franklyn Venner was a chartered accountant and senior partner in an eminent City of London firm of accountants. However, between 1940 and 1945, Venner worked at the heart of the unorthodox and top secret Special Operations Executive (SOE), which was set up to facilitate clandestine warfare. Venner used the accounting orthodoxy of financial controls, the recording of transactions, and regular financial reporting to build a strong bond of trust and confidence with the Treasury and Bank of England. This provided space for Venner to develop unorthodox financing schemes, including black market foreign currency transactions, which generated millions of pounds of currency and made a major contribution to the war effort. Venner died in 1955 at age 52. This biographical microhistory, using archival sources, brings his story out of the shadows and demonstrates how an eminent chartered accountant navigated the unorthodox world of the SOE during the Second World War.

Data Availability: All data used are available from the public sources cited in the text, apart from the transcripts of the two James Venner interviews.

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