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Monday, April 30, 2012

A Real Spy's Tale

I have been reading and reviewing a few spy novels lately, if you hadn't noticed.  In Jacqueline Winspear's book, A Lesson in Secrets, (click here for review) the little known efforts of women during wartime is utilized.  Then I came across the story of Eileen Nearne, a spy for the Britain during World War II.  I had to share this story of her bravery with all of you.

She died at 89 years old, poor and alone in September of 2010 in England.  When her small apartment was being emptied, her wartime medals (Croix de Guerre by the French government, and appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire) were discovered and her secret was out.  She had no family or friends to pay for her funeral and was about to be cremated, until the news was spread that she was a war hero.  The public flooded local officials to help pay for her funeral and to attend her services.  The Royal British Legion placed a flag on her casket.  There was even a French official in attendance at her funeral to honor this incredible brave woman.  Her eulogy was given by Adrian Stones, Chaiman of the Special Forces Club (click here for eulogy text.)

It turns out she was only 23 when she was sent into occupied France since she spoke fluent French. She was "one of 39 British women who were parachuted into France as secret agents by the Special Operations Executive, a wartime agency known informally as “Churchill’s secret army.”  She was caught by the Nazis using her radio to send information.  She endured torture but managed to maintain her cover story, but was still sent to a concentration camp.  She managed to escape and resumed spying.  In all, she was captured a few times by the Nazis, and either convinced them she knew nothing, or escaped.  The New York Times reported (click here for article) that after the war, she suffered emotionally from the toll of her experiences.

 I just felt her story is worth passing along.  Spy novels are exciting, but this lady is an unsung hero who deserves to get some praise - even after her death.  I found these two short British news stories about her.

As for the Agatha Awards we have been following, the winners have been announced.  Turns out I had only reviewed one of the winners.  Congratulations to all the winners!!

Best Novel
• Three Day Town by Margaret Maron

Best First Novel
• Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
Best Non-Fiction
• Books, Crooks and Counselors by Leslie Budewitz

Best Children's/Young Adult

• The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein

Best Historical Novel

• Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen  (Review Here)

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cremation laughlin said...

Her story was chilling. I find it interesting too.

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