Marie – José Villiers: British born Countess working with the Belgium Resistance. (30 April 1916 – 1 February 2015)

After Belgium was occupied Villiers reconnoitred German airfields in Belgium and northern France and passed the intelligence to London. She also worked for an escape line rescuing allied air crews shot down over Belgium and assisted them to reach neutral Spain but after several members of the resistance were arrested Villiers was warned the Gestapo knew her identity and was high on their wanted list. She then obtained forged identity papers, dyed her hair black and escaped to England though Spain and Portugal.

Death of Heinrich Himmler: Himmler’s Missing Brain!

What happened to Himmler’s remains?

Dr. Mark Felton is a well-known British historian, the author of 22 non-fiction books, including bestsellers ‘Zero Night’ and ‘Castle of the Eagles’, both currently being developed into movies in Hollywood. In addition to writing, Mark also appears regularly in television documentaries around the world, including on The History Channel, Netflix, National Geographic, Quest, American Heroes Channel and RMC Decouverte. His books have formed the background to several TV and radio documentaries.

Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler: Attempting to escape British forces.

In this second episode, we follow Himmler as he goes on the run, heading south through the British occupation zone until his capture and identification by British forces.

Dr. Mark Felton is a well-known British historian, the author of 22 non-fiction books, including bestsellers ‘Zero Night’ and ‘Castle of the Eagles’, both currently being developed into movies in Hollywood. In addition to writing, Mark also appears regularly in television documentaries around the world, including on The History Channel, Netflix, National Geographic, Quest, American Heroes Channel and RMC Decouverte. His books have formed the background to several TV and radio documentaries.

Force 136 (SOE). In 1944 around 150 Chinese Canadians were dropped by parachute behind Japanese lines and most were later denied full rights of Canadian citizenship.

Force 136 was the Far East Region of SOE that was established in 1941 as part of the Indian Mission. The section worked under the cover name GSI and was later absorbed into SOE’s Oriental Mission.

Cicely Lefort: SOE Courier in Occupied France

Cicely Lefort sometimes wrongly spelt Cecily

Cicely Lefort passed through the SOE training schools towards the end of 1942 and was described by the training team as “Being very lady like and very English in spite of her French background.” Lefort was born in London and married a Frenchman in 1925, they lived in Brittany and escaped to England shortly before the occupation.

Using the field name ‘Alice’ Lefort arrived near Tours by RAF Lysander of 161 Special Duty Squadron on the night of 16 June 1943 to join the Jockey circuit operating in south-east France.

On 15 September 1943 Lefort was at a safehouse being used by Raymond Daujat, the leader of the local resistance operating in the Montélimar area along with Pierre Reynaud, a sabotage instructor working for the Jockey circuit, and the two men were in the garden when the Gestapo raided the property. Daujat and Raynaud manged to escape but after finding the safehouse surrounded by German troops Lefort hid in the cellar and was eventually caught.

It was later said the only incriminating evidence found on her was a piece of paper which she could not explain.

Lefort was taken to the Gestapo prison in Lyon before being sent to Frésnes Prison and was eventually transported to Ravensbrûck Concentration camp. According to Maurice Buckmaster, the commanding officer of F Section, “Although severely interrogated and ill-treated she gave no vital information away and requested she be awarded the military OBE.”

After almost a year of hard labour Lefort become very ill and eventually could not stand during the daily role call during which the women were often forced to stand for seven hours each day and many collapsed and died from exhaustion. It was later stated that more than 100 women a day died from illness, exhaustion or were executed.

After Lefort was unable to work she was selected for execution and it was later claimed before she was executed she received a letter from her husband requesting a divorce but this is unlikely because prisoners did not receive letters and nobody would have known she was at Ravensbrûck. However, if she did receive this letter it mostly likely arrived by Lysander before she was captured because there are several accounts of agents receiving letters from home after being censored by HQ.

The date of her death is not known and it is believed Cicely Lefort was among a group of women sent to the gas chambers.

Alan Malcher.

Anna Leska-Daab: ATA Ferry Pilot in England during WW2.

Original B&W image source unknown.

Anna Leska-Daab obtained her glider and balloon pilot licence at the Warsaw Flying Club. After escaping to England through Romania and France she was one of three Polish women serving with the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary)

She was Stationed at Hatfield and Hamble and ferried a total of 1,295 aircraft including 557 Supermarine Spitfires. She flew 93 types of aircraft, including flying boats, and was airborne for 1,241 hours. 

She was the sister of col. pilot Kazimierz Leski, also known as “Bradl”, the legendary intelligence officer of the Polish Home Army and wife of Capt. pilot Mieczysław Daab. Anna Leska-Dabb died on 21 January 1988.

Alan Malcher.

British Home Front during WW2: Wireless Security Service – Tracking German Spies in England by Dr David Abrutat

David Abrutat recently published Radio War: The Secret Espionage War of the Radio Security Service 1938- 1946 and gave the following talk at the Buckinghamshire Wireless Museum. See book below.

Alan Malcher

WW2 Training Film for US Soldiers: How to Behave in Britain 1943. This must have been a culture shock for newly arrived GI’s


Operation Josephine B: Sabotage of Pessac Power Station in France. June 1941

One of the transformers destroyed during the attack (German Federal Archives)

In May 1941 the Special Operations Executive (SOE) received a request to sabotage the power station in Passaic near Bordeaux but the French Section had no agents available: most had already been deployed to France on various operations and others were still being trained at the school for advanced industrial sabotage in Hertfordshire. SOE HQ then approached the Polish Section (EU/P) which came under the jurisdiction of the Polish Government in Exile in London, and after agreeing to undertake the mission six Polish volunteers boarded a converted Whitley bomber of No.138 Special Duty Squadron at RAF Tempsford to infiltrate France by parachute.

Shortly after entering French air space the aircraft suffered an electrical fault which caused their container loaded with weapons and explosives to be jettisoned over the Loir and were forced to abandon their mission and return to England. Unbeknown to the aircrew the electrical fault was far more serious than first thought and eventually caused the aircraft to crash land and catch fire at RAF Tempsford: all the crew were either killed or injured and the six Polish agents suffered serious burns.

SOE HQ then asked RF Section (the Free French equivalent to SOE under General de Gaulle) whether they were willing to attack the power station and after de Gaulle agreed, on the night of 11-12 May 1941 three agents from RF Section, J Forman, Raymond Cobard and André Vernier (aka Jacques Leblanc) successfully infiltrated France by parachute.

After hiding their weapons and explosives the team reconnoitred the power station: there was a high-tension cable very close to the top of a 9-foot wall they needed to climb over and it appeared there was a large number of German and Italian soldiers protecting the power station. They also failed to obtain the bicycles they intended using for the getaway so decided to postpone the attack.

Before leaving England Forman was given the Paris address of an RF agent called Joêl Letac who remained in France after a failed mission called Operation Savanna, the elimination of Luftwaffe Pathfinder crews whilst they travelled by coach to their airfield, and after meeting Forman Letac encouraged him to continue the mission and the following day Letac travelled with the sabotage team to the power station. After the old lorry they obtained broke down they continued the remainder of the journey on stolen bicycles and eventually recovered the equipment they had buried around 100 yards from the power station.

On the night of 7-8 June 1941 during pitched darkness due to the blackout Forman climbed the perimeter wall and crawled under the high-tension cable which was dangerously close. After ensuring he could not be seen by the guards Forman entered the compound and opened a side door, the rest of the team entered the grounds of the power station and then sprinted across open ground to the main building.

In less than thirty minutes the team placed magnetic incendiary devices on eight large electricity transformers and then made their getaway on the stolen bicycles. It has been said the explosions were so violent flames rose high into the air and illuminated the entire area and searchlights started probing the sky for bombers.

Seven of the transformers were destroyed and this seriously disrupted the Bordeaux submarine base, numerous factories used to supply the German military were forced to stop production for several weeks. The electricity grid from another region was diverted but the overload caused more damage and all electric trains in south western France had to be replaced with steam locomotives, and all the transformer oil in France was used during the repairs.

Some writers claim the team was picked up by a RAF Lysander of 161 Special Duty Squadron, but this was not the case. The team arrived in France with one million francs (said to be about £1,400 in 1941 and roughly £71,000 in 2021) and the money was unaccountable! Instead of requesting an extraction they remained in France for a further two months and according to historian MRD Foot “They left behind them broken glass and broken hearts” before escaping to England via neutral Spain. Before they crossed the frontier Cabard was captured but later escaped and returned to England.

Kings Coronation: A few notes from my day.

Military banter before leaving the house.

Despite the banter the military is one large team based on mutual respect and support. BZ to the Royal Navy Sailor who came to the assistance of this Guardsman.

I would like to take this opportunity of thank Tony and Sue Millard of the Clarence Pub, West Kensington for their many years of charitable work supporting veterans. On Coronation Day the Millard’s and their staff did splendid work celebrating the Crowing of Charles III.

Tony and Sue Millard.