Super lady spy

Pearl Witherington was a lady to reckon with. While she was, basically, British, she was bought up in France by her drunk father and long suffering mother. The Witheringtons were a fighting lot (apart from Pearl’s father, I assume) and enjoyed nothing more than going into battle against the forces of evil. Pearl was lucky she was born in time for World War II.

She joined the war effort by becoming an extra cipher clerk at the British embassy in Paris. Turning up for work, as normal, one day, she was surprised to find that the embassy was closed and everyone had gone. They’d not thought to let her know.

Pearly realised that the Germans were on their way so she gathered her mother and siblings together and made her way to Marseilles and, eventually, to Britain and safety.

Upon arrival in Blighty, she was given a job as a PA to a senior member of the air ministry. She wasn’t keen on a desk job so she volunteered to join a special operations group, working undercover in France. Because of her fluent French and French knowledge, she was snapped up and shipped off.

She was part of a sabotage group which meant, for seven months, she travelled around the country disguised as Genevieve Touzalin, a cosmetics saleswoman. She carried weapons and explosives, helping to hinder the Germans at every turn.

She was never captured, even though the Germans, at one stage, offered one million francs for her capture.

At one time she had a personal following of over 3,000 troops, all willing to die for France and Pearl.

Following the liberation of France, Pearl was sent to the US on a propaganda mission. She wasn’t successful. The Americans wanted a spy that was a swashbuckling, posing, loud and brash object for hero worship. She was a prim and proper English lady in a neat, pressed uniform and perfect manners. Very understated. What the British services are known for, really.

She was awarded an MBE, CBE and the French légion d’honneur. An amazing woman. Her autobiography was published in 1996 and is called Pauline. She died in 2008, in France.

An amazing woman.

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1 Response to Super lady spy

  1. flip 100 says:

    Yes I agree an amazing woman, what a life story to tell your children.
    love mum xx

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