Special Sub-Topic: Women of the SOE
|Which member of the Jockey network was given the code name "Alice"?|
Cecily Lefort. Born in Ireland in 1903, Cecily Lefort was living in France at the time of the German invasion. She and her husband fled to Britain, leaving their house in Brittany available for the resistance to use as part of an escape line, and she joined the SOE, being parachuted back into France in June 1943 to join the Jockey network led by Francis Cammaerts. Cammaerts was running a network of small resistance groups, and Cecily worked as a network courier. In September 1943 she was arrested whilst meeting with a contact. After being in the hands of the Gestapo for some months she was eventually sent to Ravensbruck, where she was executed in February 1945.
|Which heroine of the SOE was portrayed in film by Anna Neagle?|
Odette. Odette was born in France in 1913. She married an Englishman and they moved to Britain 1931. She enlisted in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, but was asked to join the SOE, which she did, returning to occupied France in 1942.
Her Supervisor was Peter Churchill and from 1942 until April 1943 she acted as his courier. Their network was betrayed and they were both arrested and tortured by the Gestapo. Odette was condemned to death and transferred to Ravensbruck, but she survived the war and was able to testify against the prison guards at a subsequent war crimes tribunal. During her imprisonment her husband died, and she subsequently married Peter Churchill. She is the only woman to have received the George Cross while still alive.
|Codenamed "Paulette", who was the woman who assisted with the plans to sabotage the Peugeot plant?|
Diana Rowden. Diana Rowden was born in England, but in 1933 went to Paris to enrol in the Sorbonne. When the war began she joined the French Red Cross. When France fell she was unable to escape immediately and stayed in France for approximately a year before making her escape via Spain and Portugal. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, but wanted to return to France to help the resistance, and in early 1943 joined the SOE. In June 1943 she returned to France as courier to the Acrobat network, led by John Starr, and they helped Henry Ree with plans to sabotage the Peugeot plant, an action from which it never fully recovered. In November 1943 a new agent to the network turned out to be a German spy, and Diana was arrested. She was in the hands of the Gestapo for two weeks before being sent to Fresnes Prison. In May 1944 she and seven other SOE agents were moved to camps in Germany, and in June that same year she and three others were sent to Natzweiler camp where they were immediately executed.
|In which concentration camp was Yolande Beekman executed?|
Dachau. Yolande Beekman was born in France, grew up in London and could speak fluent French, English and German. At the outbreak of war she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, where she trained as a wireless operator. This training, coupled with her language skills, led to her being recruited by the SOE, which she joined in February 1943. In September 1943 she was parachuted into occupied France where she acted as wireless operator and supplies distribution co-ordinator for the Musician network, led by Canadian Gustave Bieler. In January 1944 she and Bieler were arrested by the Gestapo. Despite repeated torture neither of then betrayed their network, and she was transferred to Fresnes Prison in Paris. From there she was taken to a civilian female prison in Germany and then to Dachau where, in September 1944, she and three other SOE agents were executed.
|Which SOE agent was issued with the code poem "The Life That I Have"?|
Violette Szabo. Agents were issued with original poems written especially for the SOE to use as the basis for coded transmissions. Leo Marks wrote "The Life That I Have" in 1943, and it was issued to Violette Szabo in early 1944.
Born in France in 1921 to an English father and French mother, Violette and her family were living in London during the early days of World War II when she met and married a French soldier, by whom she had a daughter. He was killed in action in North Africa. Due to her fluent French Violette was approached by the SOE, and was twice parachuted into France. In April 1944 during her second operation she was twice arrested but managed to escape. Eventually, however, she was surrounded by the Gestapo, but still managed to barricade herself into part of a house with a sten gun and ammunition and fought them until she was out of ammunition and could fight no more. After her arrest she was tortured by the Gestapo, but gave nothing away. She was sent to Ravensbruck where she was executed at the age of 23.
The whole of the Leo Marks poem is shown below. Even though it was written as a code poem it sums up everything that the Women of the SOE believed and stood for.
"The life that I have is all that I have
And the life that I have is yours.
The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have,
A rest I shall have,
Yet death will be but a pause,
For the peace of my years in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours."
|Who is the lady who survived the war, and was married to the man who helped to found the Canadian version of the SAS?|
Sonya Butt. To say that Sonya Butt had an adventurous war would be an understatement. A fluent French speaker she was recruited into the SOE from the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and underwent weapons and explosives training. She was parachuted into France into the Le Mans area, and spent the next several months constantly on the move. By day she and her colleagues recruited new resistance members, at night they retrieved weapons and explosives drops and attacked bridges, roads and rail lines. After D-Day she and her network head teamed up with the Americans and went into battle areas to identify German troop movements and positions. Married to Canadian soldier Guy d'Artois she spent the rest of her life in Canada, where he remained with the military and helped found the Canadian SAS.
|Which agent survived the war only to be murdered by a rejected lover?|
Christine Granville. Christine Granville was born Krystyna Skarek, the daughter of a Polish Count, shortly before the outbreak of WW1. She married in 1938, and she and her husband were in Addis Ababa when Germany invaded Poland. She wanted to be involved with the Polish resistance and went to Hungary where she joined a group who were involved in sabotage missions in Poland. She legally adopted the name Christine Granville some time in 1941.
After twice being arrested and escaping she made her way to Britain, providing valuable information on troop movements. Joining the SOE she was sent to France in July 1944 to join Jockey network as a replacement for captured Cecily Lefort. Most of her activities in France are still shrouded in mystery as she was an intensly private person who carried out many undocumented and unauthorised missions.
After the war she had various jobs, and whilst working as a stewardess on the liner Rauhine she met George Muldowney. He fell in love with her but when she rejected his advances he stabbed her through the heart. He was executed for her murder in September 1952.
|Who was the first woman dropped by parachute into occupied France?|
Andrée Borrel. Born in France in 1919 Andrée Borrell moved from Paris to Toulon at the outbreak of WW2, and helped care for wounded soldiers. After the fall of France she joined the resistance, operating near the Spanish border and helping British airmen escape. After the network was betrayed she escaped to Portugal and eventually made her way to London where, after interrogation to ensure she was not a double agent, she was recruited into the SOE. In September 1942 she and Lise de Baissac were the first female agents to be parachuted into France. Andrée made her way to Paris and joined the Prosper network, quickly becoming the second in command. In June 1943 she and two other key members of the network were arrested. After interrogation she was sent to Fresnes Prison, and in May 1944 was sent into Germany along with several other SOE Agents. From there she went to Natzweiler where, in July 1944, she and three other SOE agents were executed.
|What disability did Virginia Hall, an American SOE agent, have?|
Artificial leg. Born in Baltimore (Maryland) Virginia studied in France and Germany before working for the American Embassy in Warsaw. While hunting she accidentally shot herself in the leg, which had to be amputated. This effectively finished her hopes of a career in the Diplomatic Service, from which she resigned in 1939. At the outbreak of war she was in Paris where she joined the Ambulance Service, and in 1940 she made her way to London and volunteered for the SOE. In 1941 they sent her to Vichy where she helped co-ordinate the French Underground. When France fell she was forced to hurriedly escape into Spain, eventually making her way back to London. In March 1944 she joined the US OSS and asked to be sent back to France. Once there she helped train battalions to wage guerrilla warfare against the Germans, co-ordinated supply drops and distributions and fed a stream of intelligence back to the UK. Never once did she allow her false leg, which she called Cuthbert, to hamper her.
After the war she married an OSS Agent and joined the CIA, where she worked until her retirement.
|Noor Inayat Khan was a most unlikely SOE Agent. What was her area of expertise?|
Wireless Operator. Indian Princess Noor Inayat Khan was born in the Kremlin in January 1914, her family being guests of the Imperial Family at that time. The family moved to London shortly before the outbreak of WW1 and later to Paris. Noor was musical, shy, wrote fairy tales, and was a highly unlikely candidate for the SOE. As the war progressed and the Germans approached Paris the family fled to Britain. Noor joined the Womens Auxilliary Air Force where she was trained as a wireless operator. She later joined Bomber Command and was given advanced signals training. This training led to her recruitment, in early 1943, by the SOE and in June 1943 she was flown to France, where she made her way to Paris and Prosper network. She had hardly arrived before three agents were arrested, and with her radio being the only one left transmitting, from then on she was on the run, broadcasting from a different location every day and constantly changing frequencies and codes. She eluded the Gestapo all summer but in October was betrayed and arrested. Taken to Gestapo headquarters she staged a thwarted escape attempt, and five weeks later tried again, this time with two other agents. All three were recaptured. She was then sent into Germany to a civilian prison where she was kept shackled and in solitary confinement.
In September 1944 she and three other SOE agents were sent to Dachau where they were executed.
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