By Sarah Helm
In the course of international struggle the distinct Operation Executive's French part despatched greater than four hundred brokers into Occupied France -- a minimum of a hundred by no means again and have been mentioned 'Missing Believed Dead' after the conflict. Twelve of those have been ladies who died in German focus camps -- a few have been tortured, a few have been shot, and a few died within the gasoline chambers. Vera Atkins had helped organize those ladies for his or her missions, and whilst the warfare was once over she went out to Germany to determine what occurred to them and the opposite brokers misplaced in the back of enemy lines.
But whereas the lady who conducted this amazing project seemed quintessentially English, she was once not anything of the kind. Vera Atkins, who by no means married, coated her lifestyles in secret in order that even her closest kinfolk knew virtually not anything of her previous. In A lifestyles IN secrets and techniques Sarah Helm has stripped away Vera's many veils and -- with extraordinary entry to professional and personal papers, and the cooperation of Vera's family -- vividly reconstructed a rare existence.
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Additional info for A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE
Just prison, then,’ she accepted. ’ He looked down at the woman, smiling at her misunderstanding. ‘Prison wasn’t the worst part,’ he said. She frowned up into his face. ‘Not knowing was the worst part,’ he tried to explain, with difficulty. ‘Being aware, as I was, for almost a year that I was being hunted yet not knowing what they were doing or how to fight back …’ He paused, back among the memories. ‘Not knowing is like being aware that you’re dying and unable to do anything about it,’ he said.
Who then? ‘Willoughby,’ the man identified himself, as if in answer to Charlie’s question. ’ Charlie’s eyes flickered for a moment to the name on the tomb plaques, then back to the man who was now offering his hand, recognising the similarity. The handshake was firm, without the usual ridiculous tendency to turn it into a form of Indian palm wrestling, and the brown eyes held Charlie’s in a direct, almost unblinking gaze. Just like the old man’s, remembered Charlie. Until the end, that was. ‘What an incredible coincidence,’ said Willoughby.
Charlie! ’ Afterwards Charlie remembered with satisfaction the smoothness of his reactions. The gateway was still too far away to consider walking on, as if the name meant nothing. He couldn’t run, of course. But they could. They’d get him before he’d gone twenty yards. They? It had been a single voice. Just one man, after so long? Probably. Fight then. Feign bewilderment, to gain the moment of uncertainty. Then fight to kill. Quickly, before anyone in the cemetery realised what was happening.