Carve Her Name With Pride

Posted on Thursday 21st June 2012


Violette Bushell was the daughter of an English father and a French mother. Her parents met during the First World War while her father, Charles Bushell, was fighting in France. He was billeted at Camiers, just outside Etaples. Mlle Reine Leroy, slight, petite and pretty, was staying in the village too with her cousins. They met, fell in love and after a courtship carried on amid the distractions and dangers of war for two interrupted years, were married just before the Armistice at Pont Rémy, near Abbeville. Violette was born in Paris in 1921. She met and married Etienne Szabo, a Captain in the French Foreign Legion in 1940. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Tania, her husband died at El Alamein. She became a FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) and was recruited into the SOE and underwent secret agent training.
Section had begun using women agents in mid-1942. Though some in SOE had moral reservations about the question of recruiting females, there was also a problem of legality – women were not recognized as combatants by the Geneva Convention and were therefore completely unprotected if captured. Gubbins skirted around this problem by using the FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) as cover. SOE had employed FANYs since its inception as signallers, coders, drivers, telephonists, clerks and training section staff, and it was thought that agents attached to this organization could claim ‘cap-badge’ status if arrested behind enemy lines to avoid being treated as a spy. It also meant that SOE could disguise its activities from the British public, creating an innocuous front for women who were ‘specially employed’.
Most were picked to become couriers, as they were considered less likely to attract the suspicion of German patrols as they delivered messages from village to village, but a few served as wireless operators and a couple even became organizers. They were trained in the same way as their male counterparts and would be liable to the same penalties if caught, yet they often showed equal, if not greater, courage when put under pressure. In the course of the war F Section sent thirty-nine women to France, approximately 8 per cent of the total number of agents infiltrated. Thirteen did not return.
'La Petite Anglaise'
Violette Szabo’s first trip to France was completed successfully even though she was arrested and then released by the French Police. On 7 June 1944, Szabo was parachuted into Limoges for her second mission. Her task was to co-ordinate the work of the French Resistance in the area in the first days after D-Day.
The flight out took four hours. Violette and her three male companions sat uncomfortably on the floor of the plane and played gin rummy. The American dispatcher marvelled at their composure. He beckoned to the rear gunner, who wrinkled his chin in confirmatory surprise. At two o’clock they helped themselves to rum and coffee from their flasks. An hour later they were over their objective.
The signalling lights were discernible quite clearly below. The dispatcher got the four into position. They put on their parachutes; the static line of each was clipped on to one of the rings attached to the walls of the plane. There was no hatch for them to jump through, but a hole had been cut for this purpose in the floor of the Liberator. The lid was lifted off this and Violette, as the first to go, sat on the edge of the hole, with her legs dangling into the rushing wind below. For a moment she clung with her hands behind her, then she let go. The line drew taut and tugged open the ‘chute. Charles Staunton had by now taken her place, next came Robert ‘Bob’ Mortier, then a twenty-year-old American wireless operator named Jean-Claude Guiet. Slowly the four swung to the earth. Taking another run above the field, the Liberator dropped the containers that held their suitcases, then four further containers, each containing Sten guns, Tommy guns, hand grenades, ammunition and explosives. The big plane then turned and made for home. But instead of a reception committee of three, the four descending from the plane saw thirty men running across the field towards them. They wondered if it might be the Gestapo. Before the reached the earth they were seized by their feet, dragged down and covered with embraces and kisses. It was a most fervent welcome. No whispers here, they talked in their normal voices. Their torches were kept alight. A large car had been brought to take back the visitors and a lorry for the weapons and supplies.
They were now in the Maquis country. The people here had an arrogant confidence in their numbers and the utmost contempt for the Germans. They had been greatly heartened by the Allied landings in Normandy a few hours before, for they saw that the day of their deliverance was very near. They laughed and jested as they drove along the dark country roads, proclaiming proudly that there wasn’t a German around for miles. The Germans as a rule kept clear of the Maquis areas: they found them difficult to control. But every now and again they made a sweep through this hilly, wooded country. Had they come again unexpectedly tonight there would have been a fight, for the reception committee had brought their guns with them.
They were housed above a grocer’s shop in the centre of the village of Sussac. Violette got a room to herself. The boys shared. The people did everything they could to make them comfortable. There was plenty to eat in that country area, no ration cards were required. The Maquis ran the place their own way.
All voices in the house were hushed that night so that the guests should get a good night’s rest and there was no question of getting up for breakfast. It was brought to their beds.
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Le Clos: woodland where the four agents landed on the nigh of 6/7 June 1944.

Carve her name with pride
Violette and her party arrived at Sussac in the small hours of the morning of 7 June 1944. The Allied landings of twenty-four hours earlier had already established a foothold in Normandy and the Germans were rushing troops at reckless speed from all parts of France and Germany in order to dislodge them and drive them back into the sea. For months all the valiant endeavours of the French Section of SOE had been directed to the one end of preventing the German divisions from getting there now, or at any rate hampering and delaying their progress. Every group of Resistance workers behind the enemy lines had been allotted a specific task. Roads and bridges had to be blown up. Acts of sabotage had been arranged at factories and on the railways, at lock gates and at power stations. It was their purpose to cause the greatest possible destruction and to create a confusion that would distract and bewilder the enemy. Staunton's task in the Limoges area was to harness the Maquis most effectively to this same end.
He saw around him vast sections of Maquis, numbering 3,000 men in all. They were spread out across a hundred miles of country from Sussac northwards to Châteauroux. Through this great expanse of wooded land the Maquis roved as they pleased, save for occasional raids by detachments of heavily armed Germans. Two main roads to Normandy ran through this region – one from Toulouse, the other from Bordeaux. In its midst was the large industrial town of Limoges, which was completely under German control and heavily guarded by German troops. There were road blocks at all points leading into the town and passes were required to enter and leave it. The Gestapo also had their headquarters for the area in Limoges.
Around Sussac were the Haute Vienne Maquis, numbering about 600. On learning of the Allied landings, the 200 gendarmes Pétain had in the area instantly joined forces with the Maquis. One of the chief figures in this group was a young man known by the code name of Anastasie. His real name was Jacques Dufour. He was tall and dark, with sparkling eyes. He was born at Salon-la-Tour, a village not far from Sussac. For his daring exploits against them, the Germans had singled him out as 'the greatest bandit in the Limoges area’. They knew his real name and were determined to get him. A large sum of money was offered for Anastasie alive or dead. To the south were the Corrèze Maquis, to the east the Creuse Maquis. Others stretched westward into the Dordogne.
For the most part these Maquis were farm hands and peasants. There was a sprinkling among them of Spaniards who had fought in the Civil War and refused to live under Franco, and just a handful of Poles. They dressed themselves in any uniform they could find or devise and looked like assorted figures out of a musical comedy. Some had gay jackets with gold epaulettes and wore feathers in their hats, others went about in khaki shorts or wore a khaki beret with their workaday corduroys.
Staunton says in his report: 'When I left London I was given to understand that I would find on arrival a very well-organised Maquis, strictly devoid of any political intrigues, which would constitute a very good basis for extending the circuit throughout the area. On arrival I did find a Maquis, which was roughly 600 strong, plus 200 French gendarmes who joined up on D-Day. But these men were strictly not trained, and were commanded by the most incapable people I have ever met, as was overwhelmingly proved by the fact that none of the D-Day targets had been attended to and that each time it took me several hours of discussions to get one small turnout, either to the railway or the telephone lines.'
The members of this force were indeed highly individualistic. When arms and explosives had been dropped to them in the past, instead of guarding them for coordinated and advantageous use on selected targets at the arranged signal, their one resolve had been to settle the war there and then by themselves. Buckling on their equipment and shouldering their rifles they set out in immediate quest of the enemy, provoked a battle and, having neither discipline nor a plan of campaign, suffered heavily in such engagements.
Staunton realised that his task was not going to be easy. In Rouen, starting from scratch, he had been able to recruit men and women who were willing to serve and to accept both discipline and training. Here he found disorganised bands who wanted only to go their own way. No doubt all the other groups of Maquis around here were similar in composition and attitude. At the head of them all, with the entire force of 3,000 nominally under his control, was a remote figure in Châteauroux. ‘The Chief of this Maquis,’ states Staunton in his report, 'a man who calls himself Colonel Charles, was by trade a saxophonist in a Bal Musette; a soldier of the second class with no war experience. He had been for Hector, Samuel and Anastasie (the leaders of the separate sections) their only contact with the neighbouring Maquis, which none of these leaders had every really visited, relying on Charles for their information.'
Staunton, who had come here with his team for the express purpose of organising and directing them, was resolved to get the entire Maquis force into immediate action. The German divisions were already on the march, so not a moment could be lost. Had Hitler listened to what Rommel had been urging for many months, these scattered divisions would already have been in the north, for that obviously was where they would be needed. But Hitler had an eye on the possibility of a landing in the South of France (which did indeed come not long after Normandy) and he felt that, by keeping his army dispersed, he would provide them with greater mobility and striking power. The most formidable of these divisions in the south was the Das Reich SS Panzer division stationed at Toulouse and already on its way to Normandy to aid the hard-pressed German forces there. Soon it would be entering Maquis country. That was the time to strike and strike hard.
Staunton called an immediate council of action. Anastasie, as the chief of the local Maquis, listened attentively and expressed his readiness to cooperate to the full. What they had needed was a plan of operation. Now that the Allies had landed and things were moving so fast, the Maquis, he said, could be relied upon absolutely to strike at the enemy whenever and wherever required. He knew the country well – they all did. He would get his men into position at points of vantage with their explosive charges, their hand grenades and Tommy guns. ‘You can rely on us. The Das Reich division will never get through,’ he said. The words, Staunton felt, had the swagger of the Maquis, but the spirit was there, he knew.
He thanked Anastasie. ‘That takes care of this territory. Now what about the others?’
‘They will act too. I am sure of it,’ Anastasie said. ‘But we must take the plan to them – and it will have to be explained to them very carefully. We must send someone...’ He glanced round the room.
‘Violette will take it,’ said Staunton.
Anastasie looked at the girl. ‘Good,’ he said. ‘I will take her along to the Maquis nearest to us in the Corrèze. Someone must give the girl the backing of our authority. They know me in the Corrèze. I will hand her over to Samuel, who is the leader there, and I shall be back in three – at most four hours.’
‘All right,’ said Staunton.
‘She will explain the plan of operation – and Samuel will take her on personally, like me, to the next group of Maquis in the Creuse area. And so on, till in the end she gets to Colonel Charles at Châteauroux and tells him how we have decided to act.’
‘That sounds fine,’ said Staunton. ‘But remember there's a price on your head.
‘Oh, I shall be all right. I'll be back in the afternoon,’ Anastasie assured him.
Turning to Violette, Staunton added: ‘Whatever happens we need Anastasie here. I want you to remember that. He is vital to our plans.’
She nodded. ‘I understand.’
Anastasie got busy at once. Things had to be got going quickly. On the morning of 10 June, that is to say three day after Violette's arrival, all was ready for her to start on her mission. The Maquis had collected in the preceding months vast stores of arms and explosives which were secreted in various dumps. They also had quite a number of motor-cars. Most of these were driven by wood fuel, but for this journey they brought out a large black Citroën and filled it up with petrol. The party assembled in the small square in Sussac in front of the grocer's where Violette, Staunton and the others lived. Violette was dressed in a light tailored suit, flat-heeled shoes and no stockings. She took a small suitcase with her and her Sten gun with eight magazines of ammunition. Anastasie, who had on his corduroys and a leather jacket, took his Tommy gun. It was a warm day, though the sun was obscured by clouds. Indeed the sky looked threatening, as though a storm might blow up at any minute.
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The village of Salon-la-Tour from the east.

The two got into the car and with a resounding cheer and a volley of good wishes set off at about half-past nine. Anastasie intended to take her to Pompadour, a charming little village about thirty miles away in the very heart of the Corrèze country. Pompadour is dominated by the fifteenth-century castle from which Antoinette Poisson, the mistress of Louis the Fifteenth, took her name.
The journey there was not expected to take much more than an hour. Almost all of it lay through narrow winding country lanes, not leafy but flanked by rocks and scrub. But they would have at some point to cross the main road from Toulouse to Normandy, and it was very possible that here they might encounter a Nazi division moving northward to Normandy with its tanks and fleet of lorries carrying supplies.
Anastasie had arranged to pick up on the way the son of a doctor who lived at La Croisille, about four miles from Sussac. The boy, who was not quite twelve years old, was going beyond Pompadour and was delighted to get a lift in the car, but brought his bicycle for the journey back. Violette and Anastasie helped him to rope it on to the side of the car. They placed it against the side Violette was sitting, so as to leave the door to the driver's seat clear. The boy got in at the back. The two in front kept their guns handy just in case there was trouble.
Anastasie decided to cross the main road at Salon-la-Tour. He felt it would be an advantage to go through a village he knew so well. The people there, with whom he had lived since his childhood, would readily inform him of any activity by the Germans along the main road.
They sang, as they went, French songs that they all knew. As they passed under the railway bridge and approached the quiet sleepy little village of Salon-la-Tour, the storm clouds overhead descended in a heavy but brief downpour. Their lane swept westward and Anastasie pointed eagerly through the rain at the church, the huddle of white houses and the ivy-clad tower from which the village gets its name. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I climbed up to the very top of that when I was nine and took lots of photographs with my small box camera.’
They peered at the rain-slashed landscape on the right. ‘That's where I used to live. I'll take you right past it. On this other side, beyond the farms, is a little stream where my sister and I used to come and fish as children. We once saw a snake swallow a frog there.’
The boy said: ‘It's going to be pretty slippery cycling back.’
‘Nonsense,’ said Anastasie. ‘Here's the sun trying to break through. This storm will be over in no time.’
They went on towards the village street, beyond which lay the main road. Suddenly Anastasie pulled up. With lowered voice he said, ‘There's something behind that hedge - the further side - right in that field beyond.'
‘They're Germans,’ said Violette. ‘You can just see one of their caps.’
The boy leapt out of the back of the car and ran into the nearest field. Anastasie got out too. Tommy gun in hand, and flung himself into a shallow ditch at the side of the road. Violette had to squeeze herself past the steering-wheel of the car. Seizing her Sten gun, she crossed the road to a tree. ‘Run,’ she called to the boy, but he was already scurrying fast across the fields.
Instantly the Germans began to shoot from the further side of the hedge. Violette turned her gun on them and blazed away too.
‘Are you mad?’ cried Anastasie. ‘Get down here. Come on. You haven't a dog's chance out there.’
With a quick glance towards the boy, who was tearing towards home but was not yet out of sight, she sent a further burst of fire at the Germans.
‘For Heaven's sake,’ shouted Anastasie. ‘Come down here.’
‘All right. All right,’ she cried. She crossed the lane, looked at the ditch. ‘That's not going to do much good,’ she said.
The Germans had by now emerged. There appeared to be about thirty of them. She saw that it was better to leave the lane and dash across the fields, where they might have a chance.
‘This way,’ she said, prodding Anastasie with her foot.
Crouching, for the Germans had begun to fire again with their very rapid Schmeissers, Violette crept along the ditch to the wooden fence of a farm-house and leapt over it. Anastasie followed instantly and they both flung themselves down on the wet earth. A woman tending her cows turned to see the cause of all this startling activity. She was caught in the German line of fire and was killed instantly.
The storm had by now blown over and the sun was out. Anastasie motioned to Violette, both rose quickly and ran forward. The bullets flew around them. One tore through Anastasie's jacket but did not even graze his skin. Both were running hard. Violette dashed out of the small field, crossed a narrow farm track and entered the yard of the adjoining farm, with Anastasie close at her heels. The farmer, who had come in to get a jacket because of the storm, gazed with alarm through his window at the fleeing figures. He saw Anastasie stuff a piece of paper into his mouth and, running to the further hedge, leap across it to the wide sloping meadows which swept down to the stream. Violette sped after him. By the time the Germans came up the figures were out of sight. Calling angrily to the farmer, they demanded the way the fugitives had gone. He said, being indoors and they tearing by so fast, he couldn't exactly tell, but thought they had gone that way. He pointed in the wrong direction.
By now still more Germans had come up. They were in fact the advance guard of the Das Reich SS Panzer division, sweeping the villages to make sure the division could proceed along the road unhindered. Four hundred strong, with armoured cars in support, they were clearing the surrounding countryside of Maquis assailants who, they felt, might be lying in wait with hand grenades and Tommy guns. Into the farmer's yard they poured in groups of twenty and fanned out, some taking the direction indicated, others tearing through the hedge to the meadows which sloped down to the stream. They were all heavily armed. Two armoured cars now appeared travelling along almost parallel farm tracks.
After some moments Violette and Anastasie, having waded through the stream, emerged, wet and out of breath, and could be seen dashing up the further slope towards a distant cornfield. Instantly the entire German advance guard dashed after them and the armoured cars turned and bounced along their tracks which, they all knew, converged at the far end.
Bullets began to fly fast now from the machine guns of the two armoured cars and the Schmeissers of the pursuing Germans. Violette received a slight flesh wound in her left arm. In a moment the two distant figures were lost in the cornfield amid the tall golden corn. They knew, since both had been well trained, that their progress would have to be zigzag or the bending corn would leave a revealing trail for the marksmen.
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The German volleys continued, tearing into the corn.
‘All right?’ called Anastasie, who was a few yards in front.
‘Fine,’ she called back.
‘I've swallowed the code,’ he said. ‘So all's well.’
Then suddenly Violette fell. Anastasie turned back in alarm and found her lying on the earth.
‘It's nothing,’ she said. ‘Go on. I'm doing fine.’
It was not a bullet, he found, that had brought her down, but her ankle, already damaged during her training jumps at Ringway; it gave in the swift zigzagging to right and to left. He picked her up in his arms, but she struggled hard to get free.
‘Don't be a damned fool,’ she said. ‘We can't both be saved. You won't stand a chance if you're caught. Besides, you've work to do. Go on. Get out.’
He carried her while she struggled. She beat hard against his shoulders with her fists, kicked and wriggled. The bullets still breezed past them and the chattering guns came ever nearer. With a final desperate thrust Violette succeeded in bringing them both down. As they fell amid the corn, with her Sten gun clutched in her hands, she crawled to the edge of the cornfield, clamped a new magazine in and, crouching, limped her way to an apple tree.
She was an easy mark now. The bullets pinged and spat up spurts of earth. It was a miracle that she was not killed. She stood up, cocked her gun and began firing at the oncoming Germans.
‘Run!’ she called. ‘Run! For God's sake, make a run for it.’ Some Germans were seen to fall, whether killed or wounded none could tell.
Anastasie saw that it was utterly hopeless now to go to her aid. ‘It's your last chance,’ she called again. ‘You can just make it.’ With that she pressed a fresh magazine into the gun and resumed her firing.
Anastasie rose, glanced about him like a hunted animal, and with a last burst at the Germans from his Tommy gun, ran out of the cornfield to the road at the top. The two armoured cars were not far away now. Both were making for the same point. There was just a chance that he would get there first.
Crouching, half dropping with exhaustion, he ran on and reached at last the railway bridge at the top and the small farm-house beside it. At the corner of the road, by the bridge, lay a pile of logs. Anastasie decided to worm his way into their midst. They should with luck provide him with enough cover. From the window of the farm-house the farmer watched with apprehension. At other windows stood his wife and two daughters. They knew Anastasie well. Both girls had been to school with him.
Quickly the girls came out. They piled the logs upon him and had just got him covered up when the first of the two armoured cars turned towards them. With the greatest alarm suddenly one of the girls saw that Anastasie's foot was exposed, so she sat down on it.
Meanwhile, swarming across the fields, shot at continuously as they came, the Germans, numbering many hundreds, firing all the time, closed in on Violette. By now all the magazines of her Sten gun had been emptied. As they came to take her she fought them with immense strength for one so small. She kicked and struggled and struck at them with her fists, and bit their hands as they seized her. But she was no match for so many. Two Nazi soldiers eventually succeeded in pinioning her by the arms and half carried, half dragged her to the top.
They brought her, hot and dishevelled, to the heap of logs under which Anastasie was hidden and stood within a pace of him. The second armoured car now came up. A young officer, eyeing Violette with admiration, said: ‘I like your spirit. You put up a wonderful fight – right up to the end.’ Then, motioning to his men to let go her arms, he took out his cigarette case, selected one for her and stuck it between her lips. She was not prepared to engage in an exchange of courtesies. She spat out the cigarette. Her eyes blazing with fury, she said: ‘You dirty cowards. You filthy German swine. I don't want your cigarettes’ and with that, leaning forward, she spat full in the young officer's face. His eyes narrowed. Drawing his handkerchief, he wiped the spittle off his eyes and cheek. Then suddenly he threw his head back and laughed.
‘All right,’ he said. ‘Take her away.’ He motioned towards the nearer armoured car. The two soldiers seized her and lifted her on to it. She refused the seat offered her.
The officer sprang on to the car himself. Hundreds of German soldiers meanwhile were swarming across the railway lines and beating the bushes in their search for Anastasie.
The girl sitting on Anastasie's foot hesitated for a moment. ‘Go on, get inside,’ the German officer commanded.
‘All right, I'm going,’ she said casually.
She began to rise. With her body still covering the exposed foot, she waited until the armoured cars moved off. She heard Violette say: ‘Will you tell your men to let go my arms? I'd like to have one of my own cigarettes.’
As the two armoured cars turned into the village street hundreds standing at their windows saw her go by in the leading car, with a cigarette between her lips, shouting death and damnation to the Germans. ‘Your fate is already sealed. The end is drawing near. It won't be long now. Then you swine will get your deserts in full.’
Many Germans were seen to fall when they closed in on her, for they presented a wide semicircle which she raked with her gun. But none can tell the exact number, as the entire village remained behind closed doors for the rest of the day. No bodies were found. The Germans were not likely to leave their dead and wounded on the fields for the villagers to dispose of.
Anastasie lay under the logs for many hours. By adjusting one of the logs after the Germans left, the girls were able to keep the foot concealed until night fell. Then they came out and took him into the house. The farmer's wife had prepared a meal for him. He ate it ravenously. ‘If I live a hundred years,’ he said, ’I shall never forget today.’ But as things turned out he was killed the following year in Indo-China. His body was brought home and lies in the little cemetery within sight of the fields across which he and Violette were pursued for close on two miles, fighting all the way.
In Salon-la-Tour even now they talk of that heroic day when 'la petite Anglaise' held 400 Germans of the Das Reich SS Panzer division at bay, with a complete disregard of all personal risk. It gave the boy they knew his chance to get away. Of the girl's real name they are unaware. They heard later that it was Corinne. That was the name entered in her forged papers. By it she is still known in the area.
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Violette at the time she became a secret agent. She had been in the Land Army, then joined the ATS and served in an anti-aircraft battery just outside Liverpool, and later worked in an aircraft factory at Morden in Surrey.

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Agents prepare for a mission to occupied France.

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Charles Staunton.

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Anastasie. His real name was Jacques Dufour. Though only 20 at the time, he was such a formidable foe that the Germans called him 'the biggest bandit of all the Maquis in the Limoges area.' He and Violette were together in a car when the German troops ambushed them. Violette's heroic stand against the Germans enabled Anastasie to escape.

'For the most part these Maquis were farm hands and peasants. There was a sprinkling among them of Spaniards who had fought in the Civil War and refused to live under Franco, and just a handful of Poles. They dressed themselves in any uniform they could find or devise and looked like assorted figures out of a musical comedy. Some had gay jackets with gold epauletters and wore feathers in their hats, others went about in khaki shorts or wore a khaki beret with their workaday corduroys.'

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Mustering for a strike against the Germans - with a motley collection of British and captured German weapons.

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For more about secret operations during the Second World War, see this commemorative magazine: Behind Enemy Lines, looking at the Special Operations Executive, tasked by Winston Churchill to 'Set Europe Ablaze' through sabotage and subversion. SOE grew and eventually operated all over Europe and Asia, though its main point of focus was France.

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The scene of the ambush in Salon-la-Tour. The Germans were crouching behind the hedge at the end of the road.

'... They went on towards the village street, beyond which lay the main road. Suddenly Anastasie pulled up. With lowered voice he said, "There's something behind that hedge - the further side - right in that field beyond."
"They're Germans," said Violette, "You can just see one of their caps."
The boy leapt out of the back of the car and ran into the nearest field. Anastasie got out too, Tommy gun in hand, and flung himself into a shallow ditch at the side of the road. Violette had to squeeze herself past the steering-wheel of the car. Seizing her Sten gun, she crossed the road to a tree. "Run," she called to the boy, but he was already scurrying fast across the fields.
Instantly the Germans began to shoot from the further side of the hedge. Violette turned her gun on them and blazed away too.'

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A Flammpanzerwagen, Sd Kfz 251, belonging to a unit of Das Reich, pictured during the drive north to Normandy.

Further Reading


Carve Her Name With Pride
(Paperback - 187 pages)
ISBN: 9781848847422

by R J Minney
Only £12.99

Carve Her Name With Pride is the inspiring story of the half-French Violette Szabo who was born in Paris Iin 1921 to an English motor-car dealer, and a French Mother. She met and married Etienne Szabo, a Captain in the French Foreign Legion in 1940. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Tania, her husband died at El Alamein. She became a FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) and was recruited into the SOE and underwent secret agent training. Her first trip to France was completed successfully even though she was…
Read more at Pen & Sword Books...

More recommended reading:
If you are interested in the history of female spies in wartime and the role of women in intelligence organizations such as SOE, you may also find Ann Kramer's Women Wartime Spies of interest:

Further Reading


Women Wartime Spies
(Hardback - 224 pages)
ISBN: 9781844680580

by Ann Kramer
Only £19.99

From Mata Hari through to Noor Inayat Khan, women spies have rarely received the recognition they deserve. They have often been trivialised and, in cinema and popular fiction, stereotyped as vamps or dupes. The reality is very different. As spies, women have played a critical role during wartime, receiving and passing on vital information, frequently at considerable risk. Often able to blend into their background more easily than their male counterparts, women have worked as couriers, transmitters and with resistance fighters, their achievements often unknown. Many have died.

Read more at Pen & Sword Books...

Of further interest...