|by Bill Bawden, PRO|
17 May 2016
Spies In Petticoats
A fascinating talk by guest speaker Carol Brown of the Guildford Museum to members of the AirCrew Association at their Fairoaks Airport venue covered the part played by Allied women agents during World War II.
Carol devoted the main part of her narrative to the history of the women recruited by ‘F’ Section of the Special Operations Executive to work under cover in Nazi-occupied and Vichy-controlled France, many of whom had trained for their missions at Wanborough Manor near Guildford. Initially used mainly as radio operators and couriers, some of their number undertook more leading positions in clandestine operations against the German occupation forces and those who collaborated with them.
Prominent among these intrepid women were Odette Hallowes, Violette Szabo and Noor Inayat Khan. All three were awarded the George Cross, the latter two posthumously following execution by the Gestapo. But there were a number of other women whose bravery during this time ranked alongside that of this trio and their male counterparts and stand as examples of the heroism displayed by SOE agents. Carol’s talk left her audience with a profound admiration of their work and sacrifice.
Originally designated for high-level bombing, the Vulcan was later adapted to perform low-altitude missions and Bill found this far more enjoyable. During this time he took part in several overseas trips, the most memorable being a round-the-world flight to perform at an air display in New Zealand.