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.