Violette SzaboViolette Reine Elizabeth Bushell Szabo, George Cross, Member of the Order of the British Empire, Croix de Guerre (France) (1921 - 1945), World War II secret agent.
In 1940, Violette married Etienne Szabo, a French officer. Shortly after the birth of their only child, Tania, he was killed at the Battle of El Alamein. This was the event that caused Violette to offer her services to the SOE. Parachuted into France by the SOE, near Cherbourg she reorganized a resistance network that had been smashed by the Germans. She led them in sabotaging bridges and her reports to SOE headqwuarters on the factories producing war materials for the Germans was extremely important to establish bombing targets.
She returned to England and quickly was sent back to Limoges in France where she coordinated the local Maquis to sabotage German communication lines in preparation for D-Day. However, she was eventually betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo, despite putting up fierce resistance with her Sten gun. She was interrogated under torture, then sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she was forced into hard labour and suffered terribly from malnutrition and exhaustion.
Violette Szabo was executed by the Germans on or about February 5, 1945 and her body disposed of in the crematorium. At Ravensbrück, three other female members of the SOE were executed by the Germans: Denise Bloch, Cecily Lefort, and Lilian Rolfe.
Szabo was the first woman to be awarded the George Cross; this was awarded posthumously on December 7 1946. The Croix de Guerre was awarded by the French government in 1947. As one of the SOE agents who died for the liberation of France, Sub-lieutenant Szabo is listed on the "Roll of Honor" on the Valençay SOE Memorial in the town of Valençay, in the Indre departément.
The Violette Szabo GC Museum:
- "Cartref", Tump Lane, Wormelow, Herefordshire, HR2 8HN, England