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SOE Heroine Odette Sansom

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Edited by Gill Burrell, Wednesday, 2 Sep 2020, 19:56

Odette Sansom. born and raised in France in Amiens, had the advantage of being Billingual in French and English. She moved to England with her husband.
There she was recruited for SOE (Special Operations Executive) after she had responded to a request to send photographs of the French coast.

The photographs and notes she had sent alerted the department to her potential as a spy.
SOE was a clandestine operations unit in England that was active during the second world war in France.Its aim was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaisance in occupied Europe fighting against the Nazis.

Odettes code name was "Lise" and she was enrolled in first aid and nursing yeomanry on becoming an agent. She was allied to the French resistance groups, supplying them with weapons and equipment. She worked with another agent called Peter Churchill the head of 'Spindle' network of agents in France.
She was working as a courier passing messages back and forth. Later together with other agents they tried to set up a safe house in South of France then later moved to Annecy near the Italian border.border as their mission was now becoming more dangerous.

However there was a double agent working for the Nazi Germans who had informed them of the safe house. Unfortunately they were then captured by the Nazis but in order to stay alive a bit longer they used the fabricated story that she was the wife of peter Churchill, nephew of prime minister Winston Churchill and that he knew nothing of her activities. They thought this to be a good cover story and a bargaining tool with the Nazis who wanted the release of Rudolf Hess.
Finally she was imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo but did not give away any information to her Nazi captors. At last she was released and she was awarded the George Cross, the first women ever , and was given a chevalier de la l├ęgion d'honneur. Her life story has since been made into a film.

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