Odette Hallowes

Odette Marie Celine Brailly was born on 28th April 1912. She is one of the most famous Allied spies of the Second World War.

The story for which she is remembered began two years into the Second World War, when the government in England appealed for photos of France which they could use to help them with their operations there. Odette contacted the War Office with photos of her homeland. This act led to her being recruited & trained by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and in 1942 she was sent to Nazi occupied France to work undercover.

While there she used the codename Lise, and did a very risky job as an underground radio operator, working for a man called Peter Churchill.

For over a year she continued, until in 1943 a double agent betrayed her. Odette and Peter Churchill were arrested and sent to a prison in Paris. They pretended that they were married, and said that they were related to Winston Churchill, as they thought they may be treated better if the Nazi’s believed this.

Despite being brutally tortured Odette did not give away her real identity or any important information. Later that year she was sentenced to death and transferred to the  Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Fortunately for Odette, when the camp was liberated in 1945 the guards still believed she was related to Winston Churchill and so had spared her life, and hoped to use her as a bargaining tool. She was freed and returned to her home in England.

She was awarded an MBE and became the first woman ever to be given the George Cross medal.


Find out more….

A book was written about her life, called Odette, which was also turned into a film.

Find out more about the book here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2623103-odette
And more about the film here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043871/

For more detail about Odette’s life and time in France http://nigelperrin.com/odette-hallowes.htm#.U1zzk_ldVvA

The Imperial War Museum holds many items relating to Odette in their collection, you can view some of them online here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=Odette




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