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Jura might be interested in this!

(13 Posts)
Fennel Thu 02-Nov-17 14:33:00

Yvonne Baseden, an SOE agent who operated in the Jura, died last week at the age og 95.
There are obituaries in the Times and the Telegraph, but they want you to pay to read it all.

MawBroon Thu 02-Nov-17 14:46:09

Here it is

YVONNE BURNEY, who has died aged 95, was the youngest female SOE agent to be parachuted into wartime France, where she organised one of the largest daylight air drops of arms to the resistance, before being betrayed, arrested by the Gestapo, and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp.
She was born Yvonne Jeanne de Vibraye Baseden in Paris on January 20 1922. Her British father, Clifford Baseden, had served as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, only to crash land not far from the Chateau de Frescines, north-west of Blois. Her mother, Antoinette de Vibraye, was the volunteer ambulance driver who was sent to fetch him from hospital after his wounds had been dressed; she brought him back for dinner to the chateau, where romance blossomed.
Young Yvonne was educated in various European countries until the age of 14, when she arrived in England and attended St Mary’s Priory School, Tottenham, until she was 16. When she heard de Gaulle’s call to arms on June 22 1940, she volunteered to join the Free French but was rejected by de Gaulle “as mademoiselle was born of an English father”. This was a grave disappointment for a girl whose “thoughts and hopes”, as she recalled, “were already in my beloved France”.
Instead, on September 4 1940, aged 18, she joined the WAAF as a clerk. She was talent-spotted, and in early 1943 she was invited for an interview with Selwyn Jepson, recruiting officer for the French section of SOE. She was told that the work would be top secret, and would be behind enemy lines. Asked if she was game, she replied: “Well, that sounds quite exciting.”
(News Standard Telegraph Optimisation)
Yvonne Burney just after the war, when she was still serving in the WAAF
Thus she became the youngest of the 39 female agents recruited for SOE F Section, of whom 13 would die on active service. The SOE, which was chronically short both of French-speakers and of wireless operators, selected her to work in the field under the code name “Odette”, and sent her to Thame Park in Oxfordshire for further training. She was teamed with a young French nobleman, Marie Joseph Gonzague de Saint-Geniès, who she learnt post-war was a distant cousin, himself code-named “Lucien”.
Their orders were to establish a new resistance network around Dôle in eastern France. Yvonne Baseden’s first attempt to parachute into France was aborted after her pilot became suspicious about the arrangement of the lights and signals on the ground.
At a second attempt she landed near Gabarret, east of Mont-de-Marsan in south-western France, on the night of March 17/18 1944. There she was met on the ground by George Starr, code-named “Hilaire”, leader of the “Wheelwright” network in Gascony. She was taken by bicycle to a farmhouse and, two weeks later, began her journey to Dôle.
There she found that existing resistance networks had been infiltrated and shut down by the Germans. Her first months were spent recruiting and training new operatives, and marshalling airdrops of weapons and stores. She kept in touch with London by wireless from the orphanage at Dôle, which was Lucien’s headquarters.
In the run-up to D-Day, when members of the network were involved in making explosive charges and planning targets for sabotage to support the main invasion, she helped Lucien plan Operation Zebra. This took place in broad daylight later, on June 25 1944, when 432 containers of essential supplies, arms and equipment were dropped from 36 Flying Fortresses near Pierre-de-Bresse, south-west of Dôle, one of the largest operations of its kind during the war.
More than 800 French took part on the ground, while Yvonne Baseden used a short-wave radio to talk to the aircraft. Later she wirelessed London: “Most of big day operations safe but enemy looking all over area.” A day later, back at the orphanage, Lucien and his team were celebrating when, following a tip-off by local sympathisers, the Germans arrived.
Yvonne Baseden and several fellow agents were captured, and Lucien was killed. Eventually, after a clumsy interrogation, she was transported to Germany. Stopping at Saarbrucken concentration camp en route, she was aghast to find herself reunited with several other agents, some of whom she had met at SOE headquarters in Baker Street.
Among them was Violette Szabo, alongside whom she had learnt to parachute, and whom she had last seen when Szabo brought her little daughter into the offices of SOE. Also with them, chained to bunks in the gloom, were Lilian Rolfe and Denise Bloch, as well as four French parachutistes. “My God,” Yvonne Baseden exclaimed, “The whole of Baker Street is here.”
From Saarbrucken she was moved to Ravensbrück, where she was subjected to a humiliating routine of strip searches, shaving, numbering, random punishments, and hours of standing to attention during endless roll calls. Weakened by the bitter winter of 1944/45, she contracted tuberculosis. Yet she also found a protector in Mary Lindell, a former escape line organiser and fellow prisoner whom she had first met in prison in Dijon.
Mary Lindell twice managed to have Yvonne Baseden admitted to the camp’s hospital, where she was treated by the half-English assistant doctor, Percy Treite. Treite’s treatment of his patients was so effective that both Mary Lindell and Yvonne testified on his behalf at the Hamburg War Crimes tribunal after the war: nevertheless he was sentenced to death.
Yvonne Baseden was at Ravensbrück in the New Year of 1945 when Bloch, Rolfe and Szabo were brought back, in pitiful condition, from a punitive work party and executed. Yvonne herself was only saved, she thought, because she had come not from Paris like them but from Dijon, and her paperwork had been lost.
In April, with the Germans close to defeat, Himmler attempted to secure a separate peace in the west, hoping that the German army could fight on the same side as the western allies against the Russians. The Nazi leader floated the idea through Count Folke Bernadotte, a cousin of the King of Sweden, and as a price for his participation Bernadotte demanded permission for a fleet of Swedish Red Cross buses, the so-called “White Buses”, to evacuate the concentration camps in northern Germany.
Mary Lindell managed to secure a place on the White Buses for Yvonne Baseden. Taken to Malmö in Sweden, she spent her first night of freedom on a mattress underneath a dinosaur skeleton in the local museum, which had been turned into a reception centre. After two weeks in quarantine she was flown home in the belly of a Mosquito bomber that had been pressed into service as a BOAC airliner.
Back in England she spent nine months recovering at King Edward VII’s Sanatorium in Midhurst. This convalescence was interrupted in June 1945 by a debriefing from Vera Atkins, the senior female officer in SOE’s F Section, which was hardly less stressful than Yvonne Baseden’s interrogations in German hands.
After the war she married Desmond Bailey and moved to Rhodesia, where her husband worked for the Colonial Service. He died in 1966 and Yvonne remarried, moving with her new husband Anthony Burney to Portugal until 1999, when she returned to London a widow.
In 1946 Yvonne Burney was appointed MBE (military) and awarded a Croix de Guerre with palm. In 1996 she was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. On her 90th birthday the French armed forces awarded her parachute wings.
She is survived by a son of her first marriage, who became an officer in the Royal Marines.

Yvonne Burney, born January 20 1922, died October 28 2017
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Day6 Thu 02-Nov-17 14:54:12

What an amazing story - an amazing life.

The film about her wartime exploits, Odette, is well worth seeing - if you like old films. I believe it was made in the '50s.

RIP brave lady.

Fennel Thu 02-Nov-17 14:58:45

Thanks MawBroon - an amazing life indeed.

Riverwalk Thu 02-Nov-17 15:14:59

Interesting that she only received an MBE, when Damehoods & Peerages are dished-out like smarties these days!

Day6 that's a different Odette, Odette Sansom who died in 1995.

nigglynellie Thu 02-Nov-17 15:46:57

Thanks very much for that MawBroom. Goodness these woman were SO brave and we owe them so much. Very humbling.

POGS Thu 02-Nov-17 16:42:40

Marvellous women and if the OP doesn't mind may I at such a poignant time with Remembrance Sunday looming also remember all the women of the SOE.

"The women to whom I refer are Cecily Lefort, Diana Rowden, Eliane Plewman, Yvette Cormeau, Yolande Beekman, Pearl Witherington, Elizabeth Reynolds, Anne-Marie Walters, Madeleine Damerment, Denise Bloch, Eileen Nearne, Yvonne Baseden, Patricia O'Sullivan, Yvonne Fontaine, Lilian Rolfe, Violette Szabo, Muriel Byck, Odette Wilen, Nancy Wake, Phyliss Latour, Marguerite Knight, Madeleine Lavigne, Sonya Butt, Ginette Jullian, Christine Granville, Gillian Gerson, Virginia Hall, Yvonne Rudellat, Blanche Charlet, Andrée Borrel, Lise de Baissac, Mary Herbert, Odette Sansom, Marie-Thérèse Le Chene, Sonia Olschanezky, Jacqueline Nearne, Francine Agazarian, Julienne Aisner, Vera Leigh, Noor Inayat Khan and Vera Atkins. Even, and especially, Hansard can be a memorial, too."

Day6 Thu 02-Nov-17 16:54:37

Ahhhh. I stand corrected.

I didn't realise there were two war time 'Odettes' Thank you Riverwalk. (It was still a good film!)

Fennel Thu 02-Nov-17 17:13:50

You're quite right to mention that, Pogs.
I hope that list is read out at some point.
I had a book about Anne-Marie Walters, who operated near where we live - Moondrop to Gascony
Lent it to someone, never returned.

jura2 Thu 02-Nov-17 17:25:40

Ah thank you for that - will have to do more reading about her.

The Jura is quite a big region, and Dole is quite a long way from us (and from where I grew up). A confusing term Jura too, as it is a French Departement, A swiss Canton, A long mountain chain which goes roughly from Geneva to Basel (I live about half-way).

paddyann Thu 02-Nov-17 19:12:25

I remember we saw the film about Violette Szabo in primary school,Frday afternoons were fil time and it was usually a war movie,I started school in 1959.It was good for us to learn about the people who did so much for the war effort.We also saw a film about nuns trecking over mountains with children if anyone knows the name of it I'd appreciate it,and several others.Vaguely remember the Nuns Story when I was around 11 .Looking back they were very "grown up" films for wee children but we loved them and we all had to write about them the following Monday ,so we watched carefully.It was very recent history to us .

Fennel Thu 02-Nov-17 20:19:45

The Inn of the 6th Happiness

eazybee Thu 02-Nov-17 20:52:42

The film about Violette Szabo was 'Carve her name with Pride' I can't remember the name of the film about the nuns; I think they were sheltering Jewish children in the convent; the nazis arrived, and the gun squad turned its guns on the commandant when ordered to shoot the nuns.