Violette Szabo joined the Special Operations Executive in 1943. Violette Szabo’s code-name was ‘Corrinne’. Her first SOE mission was in April 1944 and in July 1944, Szabo was landed by Lysander to spy on the closed zone around the Atlantic Wall. Szabo returned to Britain via Lysander in June 1944.
Violette Szabo was born in June 1921 to an English father and a French mother. She spent her early childhood in Paris but later moved to London where she went to school at the Brixton Secondary School. She left school at the age of 14 and started to work as a hairdresser’s assistant. After this job, she worked at the Oxford Street branch of Woolworth’s as a sales assistant.
She married a captain in the Free French Army in 1940 but he was killed in action in the North Africa campaign. Szabo received a letter from a ‘Mr. E Potter’ inviting her for an interview. At the interview, Potter suggested that her ability to speak French and her general knowledge of France would be of great advantage to his department. Szabo readily agreed to help. There were those in SOE who did not believe that she had the correct temperament to succeed. They were also concerned that her French accent was too English to fool the Germans. However, she was accepted for training and after passing this, she was parachuted into France in April 1944. Szabo had been given the task of helping the French Resistance try to re-constitute a group in Rouen. This required her traveling from Rouen to Paris on a regular basis – but within six weeks she had succeeded in her mission and she returned to London.
On June 7th, 1944, Szabo was parachuted in Limoges. Her task was to co-ordinate the work of the French Resistance in the Limoges area in the initial days after D-Day. She was captured by the SS ‘Das Reich’ Panzer Division and handed over to the Gestapo in Paris for interrogation. From Paris, Violette Szabo was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she was executed in January 1945. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre.