Christine Granville: Churchill's Favorite Spy

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Christine Granville: Churchill's Favorite Spy

Postby re-rose rose » Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:18 pm

Meet another awesomely intrepid woman:

The old cliché of beauty queens being all legs and no cognitive ability certainly did not apply to Krystyna Skarbek, cover name Christine Granville. Born in Warsaw in 1908, this daughter of a Jewish aristocrat was crowned Miss Poland at the age of 17. However, what she did next would inspire Ian Fleming to create the character Vesper Lynd. As tributes go, that’s pretty good.

Skarbek was in Ethiopia with her husband when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Unable to return home, they headed to London, where Skarbek offered to work for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a spy. She even came with a plan to which the SOE eventually agreed.

In December 1939, she headed to Budapest (Hungary was allied with Germany at the time) where she printed propaganda leaflets and, with the help of a member of Poland’s Olympic skiing team, crossed the Carpathian mountains to her homeland — a feat she repeated several times, building up such a reputation that the Nazis issued posters offering a reward for her capture. She also noted the build-up of German troops on the Poland-Russia border, despite a non-aggression pact, which meant that Winston Churchill was aware of the impending invasion before Joseph Stalin. Churchill later described Skarbek — now known as Granville — as his “favourite spy”.

In 1941, Granville was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo. During questioning she bit her tongue so hard it bled, then coughed up the resulting blood to convince her guards that she had tuberculosis. Temporarily released, she escaped to Yugoslavia in the boot of a British ambassador’s car. This wasn’t the end of her work, though.

“Granville was sent to France where she hit the ground running,” says Twigge. She immediately began her task of subverting Polish troops serving in the German army. “Dissatisfaction became so widespread that, within days, her area commander reported it was essential to send another officer to help her.”

Granville became famous for her bravery and close calls. During one reported attempt to cross the Italian border, she was stopped by two German guards. They told her to raise her hands. She complied — revealing a grenade in each armpit, their pins out. When she threatened to drop them, the guards fled.

Granville, who kept her adopted name after the war, was awarded an OBE, the George Medal and France’s Croix de Guerre.


Her demise shortly after the war appears to have been at the hands of a spurned lover:

Sadly, after everything she’d survived, she was stabbed to death in 1952 by former colleague George Muldowney, who had become obsessed with her.


http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/ ... -spy-tales
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