“Code Name: Lise” the heroism of Odette Sansom, an agent with SOE. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk sat down with the book’s author and Sansom’s granddaughter to learn more.

Victoria Cross awarded posthumously on the testimony from an enemy officer.

(Royal New Zealand Air Force) VC awarded solely on the testimony from the enemy.

Nola Trigg showing her children, John and Wayne, their late fathers’ medals, the Victoria Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross. A photograph of their father can be seen on the wireless behind them. New Zealander, Flying Officer Allan Trigg was a Liberator pilot attached to 200 Squadron RAF Coastal command who was posthumously awarded the VC on the testimony of the captain of the German U-boat he sunk.

Oberleutant Klemens Schamong explained:


“We opened deadly fire from our ‘two 20mm cannons’ and the first salvo at a distance of 2000m set the plane on fire.
Despite this, Trigg continued his attack. He did not give up as we thought and hoped. His plane flew deeper and deeper. We could see our deadly fire piercing through his hull. Such a gallant fighter as Trigg would have been decorated in Germany with the highest medal or order”.
(RNZAF Official photo)

Original wartime caption: One day in August 1943 Flying Officer Trigg of the R.N.Z.A.F. undertook, as captain and pilot, a patrol in a Liberator although he had not previously made any operational sorties in that type of aircraft. After searching for eight hours a surfaced U- boat was sighted. Flying Officer Trigg immediately prepared to attack. During the approach, the aircraft received many hits from the submarine’s anti-aircraft guns and burst into flames, which quickly enveloped the tail. There could have been no hesitation or doubt in Trigg’s mind. He maintained his course in spite of the already precarious condition of his aircraft and executed a masterly attack. Skimming over the U-boat at less than 50 feet with anti-aircraft fire entering his opened bomb doors. Flying Officer Trigg dropped his bombs on and around the U-boat where they exploded with devastating effect. A short distance further on the Liberator dived into the sea with her gallant captain and crew. The U-boat sank within twenty minutes and some of her crew were picked up later in a rubber dinghy that had broken loose from the Liberator. Flying Officer Trigg, missing believed killed, has been awarded the V.C. (Picture issued 1943). (IWM)

Free French During WW2: November 1940 to May 1943)

In French with English subtitles.

Authors description, “In central, eastern and northern Africa, during the Battle of Britain, on the Atlantic, many from metropolitan France and French colonies rallied to General de Gaulle’s call to carry on the fight alongside the Allies. The main objective was first to bring the French Empire on the side of the allies in order to prevent the Germans from using it. After Africa and the Pacific islands, Free France participated in the recapture of French islands in the Indian Ocean, of the French protectorate of Syria-Lebanon and French possessions in the Americas. With the rallying of French North Africa in November 1942 and the reconquest of French Tunisia by May 1943, Free France became strong enough to play its full part alongside the Allies for the reconquest of Europe.” (Nettempereur 2017)

Other videos with English subtitles about France during WW2 can be found on the Nettempereur youtube channel.

Normandy: The Airborne Invasion of Fortress Europe (Public information film by US Department of Defence) Excellent coverage of Glider Operations

Archive information

Creator(s): Department of Defense. Department of the Air Force. 9/26/1947- (Most Recent) Series: Moving Images Relating to Military Aviation Activities, 1947 – 1984 Record Group 342: Records of U.S. Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations, 1900 – 2003 Shot List: Summary: World War II scenes starting out with CU of Army Field Order #1, IX Troop Carrier Command, then shifts to a group of high-ranking officers looking at Mosaic of Europe. Shows the joint chiefs of Staff at Shape Headquarters sitting around a long table talking. Shows paratroopers loading jeeps and small armament into gliders and cargo planes pulling gliders loaded with men and equipment. Also shows mass parachute drops, mass glider flight, and glider take-offs and landing. Shows Gen Eisenhower talking with enlisted personnel. (USAF By Army Air Force Combat Film Service, WWII). Contact(s): National Archives at College Park – Motion Pictures (RDSM), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road College Park, MD 20740-6001 Phone: 301-837-3540, Fax: 301-837-3620, Email: mopix@nara.gov National Archives Identifier: 65988 Local Identifier: 342-USAF-19674

The “Wild Irish girl who went around France with a wireless tucked in her bag” (SOE in France)

Claudia Pulver was a Viennese jew who escaped to England and was working as a seamstress in London when she was recruited by SOE to work at their continental clothing section based in Titchfield Street London which was responsible for producing continental style clothing and issuing agents with authentic looking clothing and accessories.

Pulver also measured and fitted out agents at their nearby secret showroom in Margaret Street and although she did not know their names after the war she got to know their true identities. Pulver recalled a French countess who crossed the channel in a rowing boat and would be returning to France as an agent and explained:

” She was an elegant lady and we had to make her elegant clothes… There was {also} a Jewish girl who was supposed to be dropped in the south of France in some chateau occupied partly by German officers. Because she was supposed to be a relation we had to make her riding clothes, but she did not make it for long. She managed to get a few Germans before they killed her. We could never understand how they could be so brave as they were. They were incredibly contained and distant. Somehow you felt there was something very special about them.

Clothes were designed to support their cover story including the social status the agent needed to project and people like wireless operators were dressed quite ordinary and we had to be careful to be in character.

We had an Irish girl who was quite wild and went around France with a wireless tucked in her bag. She was dressed quite ordinary. When the German’s stopped her and asked her what she had in her bag she said, ‘it’s a wireless, or course, but she got away with it. She survived the war but others didn’t…”

Although Ireland was neutral many Irish citizens enlisted and the Irish girl which Claudia Pulver described as quite wild was 23-year-old Maureen ‘Paddy’ O’Sullivan who preferred to be called Paddy because of her Irish heritage.

Paddy was born in Dublin on 3 January 1918 and was raised at a convent in Dublin and at the age of 7 was sent to live with her aunt in Belgium where she attended another convent school and from the scant information available it appears she never experienced a stable family life.

When war was declared Paddy was training to be a nurse at Highgate Hospital but decided to enlist into the WAAF’s and on 7 July 1941 her language skills came to the attention of SOE and she was recruited as a potential agent.

During phase one of her training and selection at Wanborough Manor near Guildford she displayed the required skills to become as a field wireless operator and after being warned the life expectancy of a wireless operator was judged to be around six weeks, Paddy volunteered and attended the wireless and security school and after completing the course she successfully passed the difficult ‘trade craft’ course at Beaulieu before being taught to parachute.

Although it is widely believed Paddy O’Sullivan completed two missions to France due to lack of official documents this cannot be confirmed.

On the night of 23/24 March 1944, which was possibly the start of her second mission, Paddy O’Sullivan boarded a converted bomber of 138 Special Duties Squadron at RAF Tempsford in Buckinghamshire to parachute onto a remote field near Limoges in south-west central France but after reaching the DZ (drop zone) the entire area was covered in fog, the ground could not be seen from the air and the pilot suggested the mission be aborted and they return to Tempsford but Paddy insisted on being dropped. After exiting the aircraft at 600 feet during her descent she could not see the ground or the tree as she crashed through its branches before making a heavy landing. After the war she made the casual remark of being saved from serious injury by the 2 million francs in bank notes strapped to her back.

With forged papers identifying her as Micheline Simonet, a nurse from Paris Paddy became the wireless operator for a clandestine circuit called Fisherman and for several months she was constantly on the move and working from different safe houses to keep one step ahead of the German Intelligence wireless detection finders whilst maintaining contact with London and organising weapons, sabotage stores and other agents to be dropped by parachute.

It has been said O’Sullivan continued this dangerous work until France was liberated but a short note in her personal file which simply says, “Simonet, overrun now Madam Alvey” supports the belief her cover had been blown, the Gestapo and Abwehr knew her identity and Paddy had changed her cover name to Madam Alvey to evade capture.

It is also believed Paddy only disposed of her wireless and went on the run after informing London of her situation and arrangements had been made for a Lysander from 161 Special Duties Squadron to extract her from isolated farmland.

After the war Paddy O’Sullivan was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and the British MBE and she summarised her war service as being “terribly frightening at times but there was a wonderful spirit of sharing danger with men of the highest order of courage which made it a privilege to work with them.”