Spy Woman: Female Spies and Secret agents in World War II.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: WW2 Espionage, Leni Riefenstahl, Test Pilot Hanna Reitsch, Female Pilots, Tokyo Rose, Female WWII photographers.
More than 80 British women infiltrated enemy lines during World War II
The Prince of Wales has unveiled a memorial to the women who were secret agents during World War II. More than 80 British women are believed to have infiltrated enemy lines during the war, with four being awarded the George Cross for their bravery. Noreen Riols, who was in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), described the women as "very brave, very courageous, and very afraid", and said they mostly acted as couriers behind enemy lines. A woman courier was much more useful as she could circulate freely [and deliver messages]."
Nancy Wake: The White Mouse who became Australia`s most decorated WWII Servicewoman
Arriving in London in 1932, Nancy Wake started a course in journalism. Her new career took her to Paris, where she lived for a year reporting on the rise of Nazism. However, she had time for fun, too, and took advantage of Parisian nightlife. Soon, the girl from humble beginnings had charmed Henri Fiocca, a French millionaire. They married shortly after the start of WWII and she moved into his mansion in Marseilles. Wake was a working woman, however, and despised the Nazis. She could not abide sitting back while they marched into France. As such, she joined up with the local Resistance movement. She became an invaluable part of the Resistance movement, carrying important messages from one resistance group to another. It took the Nazis a while to figure out they were being duped by a beautiful, outwardly flirtatious woman, but when they did, they hunted her fiercely, eventually even putting a 5 million franc bounty on her head.
Pearl Witherington: British female SOE spy in charge of 3,500 French resistance fighters
Few WWII enthusiasts are familiar with Pearl Witherington's story. Perhaps that is because for decades she refused to tell it. Born and raised in Paris, Witherington fled Nazi-occupied France only to parachute back in as part of Churchill's secret army, the Special Operations Executive. Witherington was trained as a courier but took charge of 3,500 French resistance fighters when her network's leader was arrested. "I don't consider I did anything extraordinary. I did it because I wanted to, because it was useful, because it had to be done." Kathryn Atwood, the editor of Witherington's memoir Code Name Pauline, relays her remarkable story.
Sigrid Green, WWII female spy who slipped into Nazi occupied Norway aboard a submarine, dies at 91
Sigrid Green led an ordinary life in Darwen, Lancashire. Few knew the 91-year-old had spent the Second World War infiltrating Nazi sea patrols before cracking codes at Bletchley Park - home of the Enigma decoder. Miss Green was so determined to keep that adventurous part of her life private, even her parents and two brothers, one of whom was an RAF pilot, died without ever knowing the truth about her wartime experiences. Miss Green whose mother was Norwegian joined the Women`s Auxilliary Air Force in 1942 but was seconded to the Norwegian resistance after Army chiefs discovered her bi-lingual background.
The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets And Lives Of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley
In 1963, Peter O`Donnell created the comic strip Modesty Blaise in which a brave, intelligent, resourceful woman who is irresistible to men routinely used her sexual allure to further her aims. Few real-life characters match up to her, but Christine Granville, the daughter of a Polish aristocrat who became Britain`s longest-serving WWII female spy, came closer than most. Born Krystyna Skarbek, she volunteered for Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1939, and her courage was legendary. For example, she skied from Hungary into Nazi-occupied occupied Poland as part of a network called The Musketeers. For her feats of bravery she was awarded the George Medal and the OBE by the British and the Croix de Guerre by the French.
How two sisters and their brother wrought havoc behind Nazi lines during Second World War
The tale of three spies - two sisters and their brother - who all went undercover behind enemy lines during the Second World War to disrupt Nazis operations has been revealed in a book called "The Heroines of SOE: Britain's Secret Women in France". It reveals the heroics of Eileen Nearne, her sister Jacqueline and older brother Francis, who all worked for Special Operation's Executive (SOE).
Two WWII spy girls who worked for the OSS united in retirement
They can still keep their mouths shut, these two women who were among the females working in the spying Office of Strategic Services, The OSS, in World War Two. Ask what they did after the war, and 96-year-old Elizabeth, "Betty" McIntosh and 88-year-old Doris Bohrer will say they worked for the CIA, but that's about it.
"So, I went down to the station and waited around and some Chinese came up and nodded to me and held his hand out and I gave him this piece of coal. It had dynamite in it and the Chinese took it to a place where Japanese troops were going across a large lake, and there were a couple of hundred of them on this boat ... which exploded with all of the soldiers in it in the middle of the lake."
Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy, had an Abwehr label "Agent F-7124" -- claims a new book
According to "Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War", Coco Chanel was more than this: she was a Nazi agent working for the Abwehr, Nazi Germany's military intelligence agency. After sifting through European and American archives, author Hal Vaughan found the designer had an Abwehr label: Agent F-7124. She also had a code name: Westminster, after her sometime lover with whom she spent weeks salmon fishing in his estate before the war. Critics have long questioned Chanel's links to the Nazis; she spent most of the war at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, sharing close quarters with Nazi general officers, agents, and spies.
Indian WWII heroine: Noor Inayat Khan was the first female radio operator SOE sent into Nazi-occupied France
The WWII heroism of Noor Inayat Khan, one of Special Operations Executive secret agents, has remained mostly forgotten. She was the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France, where she ran a cell of spies for 3 months until she was betrayed. For 10 months Khan was tortured by the Gestapo, but she refused to reveal anything and was executed at Dachau on September 13, 1944. Now, because of the efforts of her biographer Shrabani Basu, Khan's bravery is finally to be recognized in England with a bronze bust in London.
WWII SOE spy Eileen Nearne tells her story in BBC TV interview
As details emerge about the WWII female spy Eileen Nearne, the BBC has discovered an interview with her for a TV documentary in 1997. In this interview - for the documentary about the work of Britain's secret army - Nearne talks about her adventures as a Special Operations Executive agent in Nazi-occupied France. She recalls that when she was flown in to France in March 1944, she met two male agents who were flying back to England in the plane's return trip: "They said: 'oh, a young girl - go back, go back, it is extremely dangerous'. But I had no intention of going back."
Secret SOE files about World War II female spy Eileen Nearne released
Newly released classified documents about Eileen Nearne reveal she was assessed as "scatter-brained" only two months before she was sent in Paris in March 1944 - just before her 23rd birthday. Nearne (aka Jacqueline Duterte, Alice Wood, Rose, Pioneer and Petticoat) worked as a radio operator for the Mitchell Mission (Wizard). She was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured (only revealing misinformation) and taken to the Nazi camps. Nearne escaped before the end of the war, avoiding SS men she ended up being jailed by the Americans, before she was handed to the British authorities and repatriated in May 1945.
Woman who lived alone in her Torquay flat was WW2 SOE agent, who fooled Gestapo despite torture
The life of an unsung WWII heroine - who died alone in her Torquay flat at 89 - has come to light after investigations. Neighbours said Eileen Nearne was a hermit, but during the war she was a member of the SOE, serving in Nazi-occupied France as a radio operator under the codename "Rose". Her early SOE work was at listening stations in Britain. On March 2, 1944, she was dropped near Les Lagnys in France to work as a wireless operator for the Wizard network as part of Operation Mitchel. Gestapo caught her using radio set but, even after torture, she persuaded the Nazis that she was just an innocent girl.
British opera starlet was a spy who performed for Hitler with secret documents hidden in her costume
British opera singer Margery Booth led a double life inside the Third Reich, where she performed for the Nazi leaders while smuggling secret messages to the MI9. Her first meeting with Hitler took place in 1933, when she carried the Holy Grail in the Wagner opera Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival. Hitler burst into Booth's dressing room to told her how elegant he thought her, sending her 200 red roses. In 1936 she married Dr Egon Strohm, the son of a wealthy German brewery family. During the war British POWs - pretending to co-operate with the Nazis - used her to pass information to the MI9, until Gestapo learned about the activity.
Nazi spy - a blonde ballerina - enabled the Germans to turn certain defeat into victory in Norway
A beautiful blonde Nazi spy may have been behind one of the biggest Allied defeats, files released by MI5 suggest. Marina Lee, a blonde ballerina, allegedly stole battle plans which led to the fall of Norway to Nazi Germany in 1940. German General Eduard Dietl was about to pull out of Norway before she passed on the British plan. Lee is said to have infiltrated the HQ of the British Expeditionary Forces in Norway and learned about General Claude Auchinleck's plan. The Lee case emerged after German agent Gerth Van Wijk recounted the story he had heard from von Finckenstein, a German intelligence officer.
Sophie Kukralova: Blonde Nazi spy who had affairs with two British secret agents
A glamorous Nazi spy became involved with two British secret agents in Cairo, classified World War II files reveal. Sophie Kukralova - codenamed R 37 49 by the Nazis - had a "most undesirable familiarity" with the two intelligence officers. She seemed have been a femme fatale: One married agent offered to leave his wife and marry the blonde while the second threatened to blow her cover unless she slept with him. Kukralova's arrival in Cairo in 1941 raised suspicion because of her excess wealth, expensive taste in clothes, and her claims of high-level connections with the Nazi regime.
OSS female operative Barbara Podoski set up one of the most successful psychological campaigns of WWII
Czechoslovakian-born Barbara Lauwers Podoski, who set up one of the most successful psychological operations of World War II, which caused the surrender of over 600 Czechoslovakians fighting for the Germans, has passed away at 95. One of the few female operatives in the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of CIA) she found creative ways to sabotage German morale. Much of her work remained secret until 2008, when her OSS records were declassified. In 1944 a Nazi sergeant she interrogated mentioned that Czechs and Slovaks were used to do the Germans' "dirty work." Lauwers realized there was a chance to flip the loyalties of her former countrymen.
Christine, the WW2 spy who loved Ian Fleming, gets her own movie
The adventures of wartime spy Christine Granville, who was Ian Fleming's lover and the inspiration for the James Bond character Vesper Lynd, are to be made into a film. The movie will tell the story of the Polish countess Krystyna Skarbek, who used the name Christine Granville for her wartime feats with SOE. Called "Churchill`s favourite spy", she was awarded the George Medal for her work against the Gestapo. "Krystyna was almost certainly the most remarkable female spy of the WWII. She was intelligent, courageous, seductive and bewitchingly attractive and men were willing to sacrifice everything for her," said Agnieszka Holland.
WW2 resistance fighter Andrée Peel breaks silence on wartime heroics on her 104th birthday
At the age of 104, Andrée Peel has plenty of memories. And as a WW2 French Resistance fighter who saved over 100 servicemen, there will be plenty who have cherished her. Peel even got a letter from Winston Churchill, but for security reasons the letter had to be destroyed. She is among the most decorated women who made it through the war, she was awarded France's highest award for Bravery, the Legion d'Honneur (by her own brother, 4-star General Maurice Virot), the War Cross with palm, the War Cross with purple star, American Medal of Freedom (from Dwight Eisenhower), the medal of the Resistance, the Liberation cross and the King's Commendation for Brave Conduct.
Elzbieta Zawacka: Messenger between exiled Polish government and its resistance forces
Elzbieta Zawacka, who zigzagged through Nazi-occupied Europe to deliver messages between Poland's government-in-exile in London and its resistance forces, died aged 99. She was member of the resistance Home Army and risked her life crossing the borders of Nazi-occupied Poland on false documents to carry reports about the Nazi atrocities and the resistance. On one such trip in early 1943 she traveled though Nazi Germany, France and Spain to Gibraltar, where she was airlifted to London. In September 1943 she was the first and only woman to be parachuted into Poland, bringing orders for the Home Army. She also fought in the doomed Warsaw Uprising.
Arabs gripped by tv-series about singing WWII female spy Amal al-Atrash
60 years after her death in a mysterious car crash, a tv series about Arab singer and spy Asmahan is charming audiences with details of her racy life. Born a princess to Syrian Druze nobles, Asmahan (real name Amal al-Atrash) challenged her family and outraged conservative community by breaking many taboos. The woman known as the "golden voice" drank, smoked, had affairs, and she also filed for divorce so she could focus on singing. Her ties with the British intelligence agencies during WWII when she spied on Third Reich and Vichy France, and her work with the Free French forces, added further intrigue to a life, which ended when she was just 26.
British spy Melita Norwood helped speed up USSR's atomic bomb programme
Melita Norwood, a Communist who started spying for Moscow in the 1930s, handed over information which provided Russian scientists with a crucial breakthrough. Her data allowed them to overcome problems, which halted the development of nuclear reactors and led to the USSR exploding its bomb in 1949 - years earlier than would otherwise have been the case. The claims are made in "The Spy Who Came in From the Co-op" by David Burke, a friend of Norwood. The author states her contribution to Russia's nuclear bomb programme was at least as great as that made by Klaus Fuchs, one of the Soviet Union's most effective spies who handed over plans to the Russians in the mid 1940s.
Rose: A Portrait of a Resistance Fighter - Film about a female resistance member
William Ennals' film "Rose: A Portrait of a Resistance Fighter" tells the story of Andree Peel (then Andree Virot), who lived in Brittany during the Nazi occupation of France. Agent "Rose" and her team used torches to guide allied planes to landing strips and smuggled downed airmen onto submarines and gunboats. She saved many lives before being caught in 1943 and sent to Buchenwald. She was being lined up to be executed by firing squad when the American army freed the camp. Peel has received many medals including the Croix de Guerre, the American Medal of Freedom, and two Legions d'Honneur.
Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany
After U.S. forces freed France in 1944, Marthe Cohn enlisted in the French army. Her skills in German attracted intelligence officials, and soon she was trying to cross into nazi territory. Ultimately, after 13 attempts, she was able to sneak onto a rural German road in between watchful sentinels. That began her year-long adventure as a spy, posing as a German nurse to collect data on the whereabouts of Nazi forces. She recounts the time she helped a sick Nazi soldier back to his barracks on the Siegfried Line, a series of hidden forts and tank obstacles along Nazi Germany's border.
Pearl Cornioley: Sharpshooter, paratrooper: the woman who set France ablaze
The secrets of female spy Pearl Cornioley who helped lead the resistance in Nazi-occupied France have been revealed at Britain's National Archives. She outwitted the Nazis by hiding secret messages in the hem of her skirt and aiding airmen escape to safety. The files detail her training as a special agent, her activities and her battle to be recognized by the govt. She obtained a slot as a SOE (Special Operations Executive) agent - one of about 40 women to serve. "She is of average intelligence... Outstanding shot with pistol and other weapons. Probably the best shot (male or female) we have had yet."
British wartime secret service agent Pearl Cornioley dies
British World War II female spy Pearl Cornioley, who assisted the French resistance movement, died aged 93. In 2006 she was honoured by the Royal Air Force for her role as a resistance fighter. A fluent French speaker who spent her childhood in Paris, Cornioley worked at the British embassy in Paris at the beginning of the Second World War. She traveled back to England and joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a secret agent. At the age of 29, she was parachuted into France in 1943 to work with the French resistance groups. [see 2006 bbc article about Pearl Cornioley]
Ladies of the French Resistance
Tereska Torres worked with General de Gaulle's Free French forces in London during World War II. I have joined her on a nostalgic journey to the settings of her 1951 novel, Women's Barracks, which broke taboos by telling of unmarried mothers and lesbian affairs. We drive on in silence until she yells: "Here! Turn here for Hill Street!" I knew she would remember. As I had listened to her telling stories back in her Paris atelier, the photos of uniformed girls in her scrapbooks had ceased to be still pictures and had seemed to dance with the sounds and smells of life in the Gallic Women's Barracks.
Mildred Harnack lead Nazi Resistance: Rote Kapella, Red Orchestra
The scope of Mildred Fish Harnack's story could only be discovered after the fall of Communism and the opening of KGB and CIA files. There are accolades for her across Europe, but in Wisconsin she is all but forgotten. She met Arvid Harnack, and in 1929 they moved to Nazi Germany. They recruited other like-minded Germans into their Nazi resistance circle - nicknamed the Rote Kapella or Red Orchestra. Their demise began in 1942, when the Soviets lost contact with the group and then transmitted the names of 3 Red Orchestra members to a Soviet spy in Brussels. In 1942 the Germans were able to read these communications from Moscow.
Agnes Daluge - Teenage Spy in Nazi Germany
When Agnes Daluge told her children that she was a teenage spy for the Allies during World War II in Nazi Germany, her children thought she was joking. But it was no joke. As a teenager, she was pulled into an aunt's secret life, running secret messages and transporting those wanted by the Nazis to safety. Agnes grew up poor in Slovakia. In 1939 her aunt Rosa Schneider took her into her home in Munich. When Daluge became a teenager, her aunt drew her into the service of Munich's underground forces, defying the Nazi regime and working with the OSS. Once a German soldier held a knife at her back for breaking curfew, but she talked her way out of trouble.
Margery Urquhart, the first woman recruited to Special Branch, dies
A scottish woman Margery Urquhart who is believed to be the first female recruited by Special Branch has died at 94. She was at the forefront of counter espionage against the Third Reich during World War Two. She was once heard to say she could not speak of any Special Branch covert operations because she might "still be on a hit list". In 1942, after heavy counter-espionage limited the effectiveness of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Winston Churchill authorised the deployment of female spies to Europe, as it was thought they would not arouse suspicion when "out and about" in the field.
Shyam Benegal to produce film on Spy Princess Noor Inayat Khan
Shyam Benegal has announced a major international film on the life of Noor Inayat Khan, the Indian woman who was a secret agent in World War 2 and was awarded the George Cross for her bravery. Based on the book 'The Spy Princess' by Shrabani Basu, with a screenplay by Lord Meghnad Desai and Kishwar Desai, the film will bring a new dimension to Indian cinema. Noor was the first woman to be infiltrated into nazi occupied France as a radio operator and worked undercover in Paris helping the French Resistance. She was betrayed and captured and murdered by the Germans in Dachau.
Tinker, tailor, soldier, spymistress - The story of Vera Atkins (Article no longer available from the original source)
Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, The Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II by Bill Stevenson, re-activates many of the key figures involved in WWII's covert war against the Nazis who appeared in the original Intrepid book. All the big spy names in his new book are now dead and unable to tell the tale of Vera Atkins, who did pre-war intelligence gathering in Europe for Stephenson, and in WWII became the highest ranking woman of Special Operations Executive (SOE). She was ruthless and realistic to send agents on missions where torture and death outweighed chances for success. Of 480 agents sent into France, 130 were captured.
World War II heroine Lulu: Belgian teen who took on the Gestapo
A World War 2 heroine who joined the Belgian resistance at 15, and was later tortured by the Gestapo, was buried in Dorset. Code named Lulu, Lucie Bruce, a Belgian who moved to Britain in 1946, spied on Nazis after joining the resistance in 1940. She forged papers so she would appear old enough, and at 17 she was a seasoned resistance fighter, destroying bridges and ambushing troops. She was involved in direct combat, and helped blow up Schaerbeek railway station, which was packed with German soldiers going home. Towards the end of the war, she was arrested and turned over to the Gestapo. She underwent intense torture.
Honoring WWII Spy Virginia Hall - wanted in Gestapo posters
In 1942, the Gestapo spread posters offering a reward for the capture of "the woman with a limp. She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies and we must find and destroy her." The woman was Virginia Hall, working for British intelligence. Sir David Manning plans to present a certificate signed by King George VI to her niece, Lorna Catling. Hall should have received it in 1943, when she was made a member of the Order of the British Empire, but she maintained her cloak of secrecy after the WWII, and so the document that went with her OBE medal sat in a vault for 50 years because UK was unable to track her down.
Singapore's 1942-1945 WWII heroine dies (Article no longer available from the original source)
A woman captured and tortured by Japanese soldiers during World war II and dubbed Singapore's "war heroine" has died. Elizabeth Choy was tortured by Japanese soldiers during Japan's invasion of Singapore 1942-1945, but had compassion for those who tortured her, saying "No" when asked if she wanted her torturers executed. "If not for war, they would be just like me. They would be at home with their family, doing just ordinary things and peaceful work." When the war ended, she was invited to Britain as a war heroine noted as the only female local to have been incarcerated for such an extended period of interrogation.
Aristocrat's wife suspected of being war spy like Mata Hari
British aristocrat's wife, described in MI5 files as the "highly sexed" lover of a wealthy Polish arms dealer, was detained in the second world war as a threat to Britain's security. Lady Howard of Effingham is portrayed in documents released at the National Archives as a latter day Mata Hari. Officials convinced themselves she was a spy as she moved through London society attracting an exotic group of foreign contacts. As early as 1938 Stewart Menzies reported that he had been told that Lady Howard was "suspected of being a spy" and the suspicion "is apparently based on her general behaviour".
Woman on a Hunt for WWII Spies Who Didn`t Return
In 1941 Britain was ready to try anything to avoid defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany. And so Vera Atkins was recruited by a top-secret agency, the Special Operations Executive, where she oversee British spies in France. In "A Life in Secrets", her mysterious life is pieced together by Sarah Helm. "She turned out to have more aplomb than all the other officers put together. She boxed me in with ease and consummate tactics," Nazi spy catcher Hugo Bleicher wrote about her. Of the 400 agents sent by F Section - most of the female agents were sent on doomed missions - more than 100 were missing 3 months after D-Day, and she was set to found out their fate.
21-years-old female spy who assassinated a Nazi SS colonel (Article no longer available from the original source)
A woman who served as an Allied spy in World War II German-occupied France and gathered intelligence for the D-Day invasion has died. After her mother was thrown into a Nazi camp, Peggy Taylor, who narrowly escaped to England, volunteered to work with the French resistance movement. She parachuted back into nazi-occupied areas on numerous missions. In 1942, when she was 21, she assassinated a Nazi SS colonel after earning his trust on a dinner date. "I said 'goodbye' and he just dropped." Before the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings, she was scouting out the German defences: "I cycled along the beach, smiling at the Germans."
Sisterhood of Spies - Women of the Office of Strategic Services OSS (Article no longer available from the original source)
A train will be carrying Japanese passengers and it is agents of the Office of Strategic Services' responsibility to convince the Chinese to plant explosive coals before bailing out. It was one of the few experiences former OSS agent Elizabeth McIntosh shared at her book signing for "Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the Office of Strategic Services." Women, she said, played an integral role in the intelligence agency, helping keep records and answer telephones and encode and decode messages. But there were handful that worked behind enemy lines.
Noor Anayat Khan: The princess who became a spy
This is the story of a young Indian Muslim woman who joined a secret organisation dedicated to acts of sabotage across Europe. She was the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Through the terrifying summer of 1943, the untried spy found herself virtually in charge of Resistance communications in the Paris area as the Gestapo arrested cell after cell around her. Captured, she proved impenitent and uncontrollable. She died a horrific death in custody, kicked into a "bloody mess" on the stone floors of Dachau concentration camp, and then shot.
How a Peruvian beauty stopped the Das Reich Division in its tracks
A good-time girl from Peru stopped the 15,000 men of a crack German SS panzer division in their tracks on D-Day. As British and American troops fought their way up the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944, 2nd SS Panzer - the Das Reich Division - was hundreds of miles to the south near Bordeaux. The Abwehr, the German intelligence service, thought Chaudoir was working for them, whereas in fact she was a British double agent spreading false information as part of Operation Fortitude, the deception plan designed to mask the true location of the Allied invasion.
Elena Rzhevskaya, woman who held secret evidence of Hitler's identity
In the smouldering ruins of Berlin, Elena Rzhevskaya stooped by a radio to hear the announcement of the Nazis' final capitulation. But the young interpreter from Soviet military reconnaissance was subdued as her comrades across the city broke into wild celebrations. Tucked in the satin-lined box she was clutching were the flesh-specked jawbones of Adolf Hitler, wrenched from his corpse just hours earlier by a Russian pathologist. A burnt body thought to be the Fuhrer's had been found by a Red Army soldier near his bunker days before, but Joseph Stalin ordered the discovery be concealed. It was not until the 1960s that her secret would be revealed.