Of the 75 women secret agents to be named and honoured on the Tempsford Memorial, 29 were arrested and 16 of them executed. One further agent chose to commit suicide at capture, using her “L pill”—standard issue to each agent—and 2 died in captivity.
Most were flown out from RAF Tempsford by the special “Moon” Squadrons, 138 and 161, operating also out of Tangmere and Harrington, around the nights of the full moon—coordinated by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), sometimes acting with other secret services: the Free French (FR), the United States (OSS), the Soviet (NKVD) or MI6 (SIS). They underwent intensive training before going out as wireless operators, couriers or saboteurs. Some were parachuted down, others were landed by Lysander (“Lizzies”) or Hudson aircraft in fields torchlit by the local resistance.
The women were drawn from varied origins and backgrounds, recruited on the basis of proficiency in the language and culture of the occupied territory they were being sent to. Some have been celebrated in books and movies since the War, and there are a handful of individual memorials, but many were never honoured. They were brought together in a common cause, here listed by the 13 different nationalities that they represented.
Some still remain nameless.
YVONNE RUDELLAT MBE CdG died in Ravensbrück BLANCHE CHARLET MBE escaped after capture LISE de BAISSAC MBE CdG MARY LINDELL MID survived Ravensbrück ‘ANGELA’ (no record of full identity) JACQUELINE NEARNE MBE CdG VERA LEIGH KCBC executed at Natzweiler-Struthof DIANA ROWDEN CLdH CdG MID BEATRICE ‘YVONNE’ CORMEAU MBE CdG Ld CECILE ‘PEARL’ WITHERINGTON CBE CdG CLdH ANNE-MARIE WALTERS OBE CdG MdR EILEEN ‘DIDI’ NEARNE MBE CdG survived Ravensbrück YVONNE BASEDEN MBE CdG survived Ravensbrück YVONNE FONTAINE MdR VIOLETTE SZABÓ GC CdG executed at Ravensbrück LILIAN ROLFE MBE MdR CdG MID executed at Ravensbrück MURIEL BYCK MID died of illness in France, May 1944 ODETTE WILEN PHYLLIS ‘PIPPA’ LATOUR MBE CdG liberated by Allied forces 1944 MARGUERITE KNIGHT MBE CdG MdR SONYA BUTT MBE MID OLGA JACKSON MID SYBIL ANNE STURROCK OBE CÉCILE LEFORT CdG MID died in Ravensbrück
MARIE-LOU BLANC ANDRÉE BORREL KCBC CdG MRF executed at Natzweiler-Struthof ODETTE SANSOM GC CLdH survived Ravensbrück MARIE THÉRÈSE le CHÊNE FRANÇINE AGAZARIAN MID JULIENNE AISNER KMC ELIANE PLEWMAN MBE KCBC CdG executed at Dachau DANIELLE ‘EDDIE’ REDDÉ MBECdG CLdH MADELEINE DAMERMENT KCBC CLdH MdR executed at Dacha JEANNE BOHEC DENISE BLOCH KCBC CLdH CdG MdR executed at Ravensbrück ALIX d’UNIENVILLE MBE CdG escaped after capture MARIE-CHRISTINE STUDLER MARCELLE SOMERS MBE CdG MADELEINE LAVIGNE KCBC GERMAINE HEIM GINETTE JULLIAN JOSIANNE SOMERS EUGÉNIE GRUNER CÉCILE de MARCILLY MARGUERITE GIANELLO AIMÉE CORGE MARIE-MADELEINE FOURCADE JEANETTE GUYOT DSC EVELYNE CLOPET executed after capture in Lavardin MARIE-LOUISE CLOAREC captured and executed PIERETTE LOUIN captured and executed SUZANNE MERTZIZEN captured and executed EUGÉNIE DJENDI captured and executed MARGUERITE PETITJEAN
ANNA FROLOVA captured and executed SZYFRA LYPSZYC captured and executed YELENA NIKITINA arrested, sent to Ravensbrück EMILYA NOVIKOVA captured, interred Ravensbrück
ELŻBIETA ZAWACKA OWE BVB KRYSTYNA SKARBEK-GRANVILLE GC OBE CdG
VIRGINIA HALL DSC OBE ELIZABETH DEVEREAUX ROCHESTER CdG CLdH captured and released
HILDE MEISEL captured, took ‘L pill’ ANNE BEYER
YOLANDE BEEKMAN CdG MID executed at Dachau
NOOR INAYAT KHAN GC MBE CdG executed at Dachau
NANCY WAKE GM CdG CdLH MdR USFM
Key to awards in italics
GC George Cross GM George Medal CBE Commander of the Order of the British Empire MBE Member of the Order of the British Empire OBE Officer of the Order of the British Empire KMC King’s Medal of Commendation KCBC King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct BVB British Veterans Badge MID Mentioned in Despatches CdG Croix de Guerre CLdH Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur LDH Légion d’Honneur MRF Medaille Republique Française MdR Médaille de Resistance DSC Distinguished Service Cross (USA) USFM United States Freedom Medal OWE Order of the White Eagle (Polish)