SOE agent Andrée Borrel

Andrée Borrel escaped from France to England in 1942 after working for an escape line for two-years during which she assisted allied aircrews shot down over France to escape to neutral Spain and eventually return to England.

After passing agent selection and training, on the night of 25 September 1942 Borrel along with Lise de Baissac became the first female agents from SOE’s French Section to infiltrate France by parachute and after landing went their separate ways.

Borrel worked for PHYSICIAN (Prosper) circuit in the Paris region and travelled extensively to recruit members for the circuit, arranging arms and sabotage stores to be dropped by parachute and the circuit rapidly grew.

On 25 June 1943 London received a ‘flash’ message from an SOE wireless operator in France saying the circuit leader Francis Suttill, wireless operator Gilbert Norman and Andrée Borrel had disappeared and were later officially listed missing presumed dead, and this led to various conspiracy theories after the war. The German infiltration of PHYSICIAN and the many deaths which followed was the continuation of a complicated Abwehr plan which began almost a year previously in southern France.

It is known Andrée Borrel spent many months in prison where she was interrogated by the SD before being sent to another prison in southwest Germany. On 6 July 1944, exactly one month after the Normandy Landings, Borrel and three other female SOE agents were executed at Natzweiler concentration camp.  

Alan Malcher