Daughters of Yael - Two Jewish Heroines of the SOE
by Martin Sugarman
Jewish participation in the hazardous war of the Special
Operations Executive (SOE) during World
War Two was - as in all theatres of the war - far out of proportion
to the community's numbers in the general population.
Some of the Jewish SOE agents are quite well known;
Captain Adam Rabinovich (codename 'Arnaud'), Cr. de Guerre, murdered
by the Gestapo; Captain Isadore Newman ('Julien'/'Pepe'), MBE, murdered
at Mauthausen Camp; Captain Maurice Pertschuck, MBE ('Martin Perkins'
aka 'Eugene'), murdered at Buchenwald Camp. In addition, hundreds of
other Jews fought with SOE agents in the Resistance groups of occupied
countries, especially in France and Poland (1). Much less well known,
however, are two of the Jewish women who fought the secret war in France
- Denise Bloch ,Cr. de Guerre (who was French
but served in the British Forces) and Muriel Byck,
Mentioned in Despatches, who was British.
The SOE was a British secret war department formed
in 1940 to 'Set Europe Ablaze' by organising and supplying the underground
Resistance movements against the Nazis (and later the Japanese) in all
occupied countries. It was one of several Secret Armies commanded from
London by General Colin Gubbins, who was Vice-Chair of its Council;
the Chairman was the Jewish banker Charles Hambro - until succeeded
by Gubbins in September 1943(2). The French section of SOE, however,
was commanded by Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, a Dunkirk veteran, working
from secret offices at Marks and Spencer's HQ in Baker Street, London.
This section infiltrated thirty-nine women into France
by plane, boat, submarine and parachute between May 1941 and July 1944.
Whichever service they were recruited from - WAAF's, ATS, etc - the
women were often enlisted into the F.A.N.Y.'s (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry)
in order to go some way towards complying with the Geneva Convention
that women in the Services should not bear arms - though this was not
consistently practiced by SOE. Of these thirty-nine, fifteen were captured
and only three of these survived. Of the twelve murdered by the Nazis
one was the Jewish agent Denise Bloch (3) and a thirteenth girl , Jewish
agent Muriel Byck, died of meningitis after six weeks of intense work
in the field, on 23 May 1944 (4). (The Free French section sent in a
further eleven girls from the Corps Auxiliere Feminin or French ATS,
all of whom survived, making a total of fifty women in all who served
Ensign F/27 Denise Madeleine Bloch - code name Ambroise
- First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, SOE, received the King's Commendation
for Brave Conduct, Legion D 'Honneur, Cr. de Guerre avec Palme and Medaille
de la Resistance avec Rosette. Denise was murdered by the Nazis at Ravensbruck death camp near Mecklenburg together with Violette Szabo, GC and Lilian
Rolfe, Cr. de Gu., sometime between 25 January and 2 February 2nd. Denise
(who had three brothers) was aged twenty-nine years, the daughter of
the Parisian Jewish family of Jacques Henri and Suzanne Barrault nee
Levi-Strauss (5). She is commemorated at Brookwood Commonwealth War
Graves Cemetery, Surrey, panel twenty-six, column three and on a separate
plaque with Szabo , Rolfe and agent Lefort; also on the F.A.N.Y. memorial
on the wall of St Paul's Church, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge; on a plaque
at Ravensbruck death camp itself (5i) and on the F Section memorial
at Valencay in France, unveiled in May 1991 by The Queen Mother (6).
Denise has been described as being 'broad shouldered
and blonde' (7) but her Service photograph (8) reveals a dark haired
beauty! She in fact dyed her hair blonde in France (9) as the police
had raided her flat in Lyons and stolen photographs of her with her
black hair (10).
In F Section of SOE Denise enlisted under the assumed
name of Danielle Williams,1 though some
SOE documents (11) insist on spelling her real name as 'Block'. Vera
Atkins - Squadron and Intelligence Officer in SOE F Section and Personal
Assistant and number 2 to Buckmaster - remembers her (12) as tall and
sturdy and also argumentative, but explains this trait as being due
to the fact that she had already had a lot of experience in the Resistance
in France before her exit to England (see below) and knew better than
her trainers what Nazi Occupation really meant.
The archives of the Special Forces Club in London
(13) and the SOE files (14) reveal that Denise and her family were living
in Lyons where she worked as Secretary to Lieutenant Jean Maxime Aron
(code name 'Joseph') an employee of Citroen and Jewish Resistance leader.
She was engaged to an M. Mendelsohn (himself an agent) but this was
allegedly an engagement of convenience to assist her work (15). She
was recruited in July 1942 in Lyons by M. Rene Piercy (codename 'Adolphe/Etienne')
(16) and in turn she recruited her 'fiancee'! Denise worked first in
the 'Detective' circuit, commanded by Captain Henri Paul Sevenet (codename
'Rodolphe') (17) with the wireless operator (w/o) Captain Brian J. Stonehouse
(codename 'Celestin' - who died 2.12.98). As well as being a courier,
she was meant to look after and accompany Stonehouse, whose French was
not too good.
In her London de-briefing on 11 June 1943 (18) Denise
described how she saw Stonehouse in the street in Lyons with two men
on 24 October 1942, followed them and saw that he was taken to a police
station: she realised he had been arrested. Stonehouse was good at drawing
and always had his sketch book (which Denise often carried) despite
Denise's warnings to him not to carry such incriminating items with
him. He also once addressed her loudly in the street in English and
said 'After the war you must come to Scotland to see my house'. Denise
alleged he was homesick and too young for his job. Curiously, Stonehouse's
debrief document (19) does not mention Denise at all for some inexplicable
reason, and yet he clearly worked closely with her for some time.
Being in danger, following Stonehouse's arrest, she
left for Marseilles on 26 October. Whilst there she was sent to a rendezvous
at her hotel to receive secret papers about landing grounds and other
matters from agent 'L'Allemand' at 7pm on the evening of 31 Oct . The
next day he was arrested but she could not explain to her de-briefers
why this had happened (20).
From Marseilles she volunteered to return to Lyons
with the papers she had been given, instead of Aron, but he and Sevenet
insisted on accompanying her because she was a woman alone. However,
unbeknown to them they had been betrayed to the Gestapo and Aron was
arrested at the station near the small entrance by a Gestapo group that
had his photograph from a raid on his flat (he later escaped and got
back to Britain on 26 July 1944). Sevenet was right behind Aron but
slipped through. Denise also evaded capture by accidentally leaving
by the main exit and she and Sevenet were met by Amedee Contran; all
three then went into hiding in St Laurent de Chamousset near Lyons on
3 November 1942, in the house of Mme. St Victor.
Denise admitted to having sent a cable to her mother
(which had been intercepted by the police) in Lyons. The police had
searched the mother's flat, finding nothing, but the cable may have
been the reason why the police were waiting at the station in Lyons
for her and her two comrades. However, the Gestapo were expecting Denise
to arrive with Aron and so missed her - by sheer good fortune - when
Aron left the station alone!
Denise then moved to Villafranche-sur-Mer on 10 November,
remaining in hiding and out of action until January 1943. She made only
one trip - to Nice to get her hair dyed. She then moved to Toulouse
and Sevenet introduced her to Sergeant Maurice Dupont of circuit 'Diplomat'
(21) who was to help her cross from Oloron into Spain and out of danger.
However, deep snow and enemy patrols prevented this and they had to
return to Toulouse.
In Toulouse they met Colonel George Reginald Starr
(code named 'Hilaire/Gaston') of circuit 'Wheelwright' who took her
to work in Agen with Phillipe de Vomecourt (later commanding officer
of Muriel Byck - see below). After two other Jewish SOE agents, Lieutenant
Maurice Pertschuk ('Eugene') and his w/o Lieutenant Marcus Bloom ('Urbain'),
were arrested in April 1943, Starr decided to send Denise to London
as his courier, with Dupont, as they now had no wireless transmission
facility. Denise knew and had met Pertschuk several times whilst carrying
messages between Toulouse and Agen and described him (22) at their meetings
as often dishevelled and worried, seeing him last on 12 April for their
usual lunch together. The following week Pertschuk never arrived for
his lunch appointment. She and Starr waited in vain at an agreed safe
address and made inquiries, but later they discovered that Pertschuk
had been arrested the next day ( 13 April ). Yet again Denise had had
a very close shave!
In her London de-brief, Denise gave much useful information
describing, for example, how there were many young men who were constantly
picked up on the street by Gendarmes and Gestapo for labour work in
Germany, warning that agents sent to France in future should not look
too young , therefore, or they will often be stopped automatically and
arrested! She also emphasised to SOE that future agents must speak excellent
French, for anyone suspected of having a foreign accent was deported
at once to Germany. In addition she described how the Gestapo agents
spoke such good French - many having lived there for twenty years or
more - that you did not know if you were talking to a French national
or a German!
Denise went on to graphically describe how on one
occasion she was carrying her radio in the usual suitcase pack when
about to travel on a bus. She saw a Gestapo inspection in progress at
the bus stop. So she engaged one of the Gestapo in poor German, causing
him some amusement, and asked him to hold her case whilst she bought
a newspaper. She then showed her papers to a civilian inspector, returned
for her case and got cooly on the bus with no trouble - something out
of a wartime movie! (23).
She also related how she and Sevenet found by chance
a sympathiser contact in the Deuxieme Bureau (French Internal Security)
who would issue agents with forged Cartes D'identite.
EXIT TO ENGLAND
Denise and Dupont finally left Agen on 29 April via
Toulouse, Montrejeau (where they spent the night) and then travelled
for three hours by train seventeen kilometres to Cirs De Luchon, on
the first stage of the journey to get to Britain. Starr had promised
her a route out of the country of only three kilometres on flat ground.
At Cirs, she told the chef de gare she had urgent papers to get through
to Britain. He said she was mad and there were six hundred yards and
several patrols to pass before reaching the hotel where she could get
'help'. But they went on and met no Germans; the proprietor of the Hotel
des Trois Ormeaux found her a room for the day until he arranged two
'passeurs' for the price of five thousand francs (24) to get her over
the Pyrenees. She left at half an hour after midnight, and after fifteen
hours hiking across the Pyrenees at 3,300 metres, with bare legs and
a half length coat (at one point her guides stopped and made her a fire
to warm by) they reached Bausen at 3pm on a Saturday. Here she had to
wait three days for the bus, but was glad to be able to rest. The Spanish
police, meanwhile, confiscated all her papers including Colonel Starr's
report. She then proceeded via Veille to Lerida, arriving on 5 May,
where she met the British Consul from Barcelona and had dinner with
him. He gave her documents to proceed to Madrid (8 May ) where she stayed
for five days and in her hotel met four Allied escaped airmen (two American
and two British) . From Madrid Denise continued to Gibraltar (Saturday
15 May) for three days, then Lisbon and then ultimately to London ,
arriving on 21 May 1943, after a twenty-two-day journey.
There she gave her report verbally (25) to SOE underlining
the lack of arms, money, w/t's and general stores such as clothes and
food of which Starr was especially short. She also warned that Starr
asked that the SOE should be careful to whom they supplied arms as some
Resistance groups were Left wing and may attempt to take power after
the Nazis were ejected.
Denise's de-briefers (26) commented afterwards that
she was very anxious to return to Lyons to work, but SOE warned her
that she was almost certainly by now known to the Gestapo. She disagreed
and said that if it was so, then Starr also needed to be brought out
as they were often seen together. She added that as she had been at
the same address for months, the Gestapo would have picked her up by
now. She also told her de-briefers that she had managed to meet her
mother for a meal three months ago, and that she had alternative cartes
d'identite in the names of Katrine Bernard and Chantal Baron.
Denise now proceeded to formal training for ten months
as a w/o and parachutist with SOE in Britain, and was enlisted as a
According to B E Escott (27), F Section training began
at Wanborough Manor near Guildford for those who had passed the first,
stiff interviews in London. From here they continued to Arisaig House
in Inverness-shire for training on arms and explosives. Those requiring
very specialist instruction (industrial sabotage, wireless, and so on),
continued to specified specialist centres round the country. Then came
parachute training at Ringway, near Manchester, whilst living at Tatton
Park, and finally security training (use of safe houses, letter boxes
and so on) at Beaulieu in Hampshire. For SOE in general, however, there
were as many as fifty training schools up and down the country, mostly
in isolated country houses.(28).
At her initial training school, the following comments
(29) were written about Denise's progress; 'An experienced woman with
knowledge of the world. She has courage and determination and a thorough
understanding and hatred of the Boche. Has complete self-assurance and
is capable of handling most situations. Has a feeling of physical inferiority
which limits her athletic activities. Keen to get back into the field
and under a good male organiser would make a very good W/T operator
or courier. Is not physically suited to the training of Group A (ie
Vera Atkins recalls one of Denise's final pre-mission
briefings at a commonly frequented secret location used on such occasions,
in an SOE flat at 6, Orchard Court, Portman Square (30) as well as the
final kitting-out in authentic tailor made French clothes (31). Denise
also met Leo Marks, MBE (the Jewish Chief Cryptographer - Chef de Codage
- at SOE throughout most of the War) in February 1944, for a code briefing
and was given her "code poem" by him which he had composed
RETURN TO FRANCE
Denise returned to work in France on the night of
2-3 March 1944 with Captain Robert Benoist (code name 'Lionel'), landed
by an RAF Westland Lysander at Soucelles, ten kilometres south of Vatun
and two-and-a-half west of Villeneuve, near Nantes. The secret drop
was code-named 'Laburnum' (32). Her circuit (or Reseaux) , called 'Clergyman',
was a large one consisting of two thousand armed members of the F.F.I
(Forces Francaises de L'Interieur) which had to be re-established after
its collapse the year before. One source (33) alleges that the plane
was met by Resistance leader and former pilot Clement Remy, code name
'Marc'. Denise had returned to France now running the double risk of
being both an official SOE agent AND Jewish (34).
Her orders were to act as courier, encoder and w/o
and assist in the attack on high pylons over the River Loire at Ile
Heron and cut railway and telephone lines converging on Nantes, before
D Day, to disrupt German communications . Benoist's orders were that
Denise 'will be under your command but it must be understood that she
is the ultimate judge in all questions regarding the technicalities
and w/t and w/t security. She will encode the messages herself........and
it is of the utmost importance that her time on the air should be reduced
to the minimum' (35). She contacted London within two weeks, on 15 March
(36) and worked for three months sending thirty-one messages and receiving
Benoist, a wealthy racing driver, was sadly captured
on 18 June 1944 in Paris visiting his dying mother and hung later at
Buchenwald death camp. Denise was captured the day after, following
a Gestapo raid on a chateau belonging to the Benoist family (Villa Cecile
) in Rambouillet at Sermaise (38) west of Paris on 19 June 1944, where
she was based,with agent Jean-Paul Wimmelle (who managed to escape).
Vera Atkins (39) said that it was clear there had been a betrayal -
and they knew immediately she was captured by a message from their agents
- but it would never be known now who was involved unless it was possible
to scour the German documents on the issue. Nazi spies and sympathisers
were rife in France at the time and so such incidents were commonplace.
Only the German archives might reveal how the Gestapo knew of the presence
of the SOE agents at the chateau, and so who the informers were, but
then SOE had neither the ability or time to get to the truth whilst
the war had to be won. After the German surrender, SOE was wound up
very quickly (1 January 1946) and as it was felt that no good could
come of finding the traitors - and what with the turmoil in post war
Europe - matters like these were often left uninvestigated and unsolved.
THE BEGINNING OF
As the Allies approached Paris, the Germans were forced
to move all their prisoners further east and into Germany. Imprisoned
at the infamous gaol in Fresnes twelve miles south of Paris, Denise
was taken to Gare de L'Est by coach on 8 August with Szabo and Rolfe.
They had all been in Fresnes prison at the same time, but unbeknown
to each other. A report written by Vera Atkins - when seconded to the
Judge Advocate General's Branch HQ BAOR, 13 March 1946 (40) - mentions
that Denise had also been seen in interrogation centres at both 3, Place
des Etats-Unis and the notorious 84 Avenue Foch, in Paris, Gestapo HQ.
Each prisoner was given a small parcel by the Red
Cross, enough to last for two days. Their third class railway wagon
was attached to the end of a heavily guarded train carrying three hundred
German wounded as well as male prisoners. The women prisoners - separated
from the men, who included Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas, 'The White Rabbit'
- were chained by the ankles in pairs.Vera Atkins' report (41) states
that other SOE agents on the train with them included Major Peuleve
and Squadron Leader Southgate en route to Buchenwald. After many hours
delay,the train left on that hot August late afternoon en route to Germany.
The following day the train was attacked and damaged
by the RAF, so they had to continue the journey on trucks later that
night. (During this attack occured the famous incident when Violette
Szabo crawled into the male prisoner section to bring them food and
water). On reaching Metz, they were billeted in stables for the night;
agent Bernard Guillot alleges he saw many women prisoners at this time
whilst he was being moved between prisons and especially mentions Denise
in his de-brief of 12 April 1945 (42) .
From here the girls were then sent on to Gestapo HQ
in Strasbourg. Later they reached Saarbrucken; here the three girls
were seen by Mlle. Monique Level, a French prisoner, as they arrived,
with Lilian looking quite ill (43). Finally, they arrived at Ravensbruck
after a week's brutalising journey. The date was 22 August 1944 (44).
Details of Denise's imprisonment and death are described
by E H Cookridge's 'Inside SOE' (45). The three SOE girls managed to
share the same bunk in their hellish prison hut. Here they were seen
by SOE agents Yvonne Baseden and Eileen Nearne (46). But after three
weeks at Ravensbruck (the world's largest prison for women ever known)
she and Szabo and Rolfe were taken to Torgau (with Nearne) on 3 September,
a Labour camp one hundred and twenty miles south of Ravensbruck where
conditions were slightly better and they worked in a factory. Nearne
said they were in good spirits, especially Violette, who was constantly
planning an escape (47). Lilian, however, was unwell (48). Later, Nearne
was sent elsewhere and never saw them again.
Several weeks later (5 October) they were returned
to Ravensbruck. Again after two weeks (19 October) they were moved (49)
and sent east to join an Aussenkommando - three hundred miles away near
Konigsburg - labouring in heavy forestry and building work at an airfield.
They travelled by truck arriving in November 1944 and worked for three
months in the harshest conditions of an East European winter, mainly
with Russian and Polish POW's (50). Both Lilian and Denise were very
unwell as a result of the ill treatment here whereas Violette had stood
up to it better. Witnesses described how all three always stuck together
and showed remarkable spirit (51).
Violette became particularly friendly with Solange
(note 50), whilst Lilian (who was increasingly ill and in the hospital)
was befriended by Renee Corjon (note 48). Then on 20 January, the three
agents were again returned to Ravensbruck; they speculated (Solange
and Corjon) that it might be for repatriation via Sweden or Switzerland.
Little did they know that it had been decided by Berlin to carry out
systematic mass executions; the Allies were fast approaching and the
Germans wanted to kill prisoners who had witnessed atrocities or who
were considered 'important' and constituted a 'danger' to the German
At Ravensbruck, Baseden saw them yet again and was
shocked at their much deteriorated health. They told Baseden that they
had managed to contact some male POW's on their transport back and given
them a list of agents they had seen imprisoned, hoping it would get
back to London. Baseden alleges they were optimistic about getting onto
another transport perhaps to perform lighter work outside the camp,
and that a French prisoner, Mary de Moncy - who worked in the infirmary
- had been able to get them some food and clothes (53) It was de Moncy
who told Yvonne Baseden later that one day the girls had been taken
to the punishment cells for solitary confinement, all three being in
a poor state and Lilian unable to walk. After a further three days they
were moved to an "L" shaped block of cells called the bunker
(a kind of prison within the prison) and were seen by an unnamed Czech
woman (54). Odette Churchill, GC (55) describes this abominable place
thus - 'A short passage with a barrel gate at the end with spikes leading
to the floor and ceiling , had on one side the cheerful rooms of the
SS.....the gate swung on a spring hinge and led to a flight of stairs
descending to a stone underground second passage with white electric
light, and cells on one side, which were all in darkness inside....the
cell doors had hatches through which food was passed'.
A day or two later all three agents disappeared.
After the war, it was discovered, however, (see below)
that the three women were taken from their cells to the yard behind
the crematorium at about 1900 hrs one evening. Denise and Lilian had
been badly treated and were on stretchers; only Violette was able to
walk. Camp Commandant SS SturmbannFuhrer Fritz Suhren read the death
sentences ordered by RSHA in Berlin, with Second in Command Schwartzhuber
also present. SS Sergeant Zappe guarded the girls whilst this was done
. SS ScharFuhrer (Sergeant) Schulte (or Schulter) - a block leader from
the mens' camp - then shot each girl in the back of the neck as they
knelt down with a small calibre gun, as SS Corporal Schenk (in charge
of the crematorium) brought them forward and held them. Camp doctor
SS SturmbannFuhrer Trommer certified the deaths and the clothed bodies
were removed singly by internees and immediately cremated. The camp
dentist, Dr Martin Hellinger, was there to remove any gold teeth.
Suhren was arrested by the Americans on 3 May whilst
bringing Odette Churchill GC from Ravensbruck to the American lines
as a mitigating offering. He escaped, was recaptured, escaped again
for two years, was recaptured again in 1949 by the British when he was
found working in a brewery, and then handed over to the French. They
- as Peter Churchill wrote (56) 'had no foolish sentiment about these
murderers' and tried and then executed him in - ironically - Fresnes
prison. The dentist received 15 years in prison, was released in 1951
and practised in Germany for years afterwards (57).
For months after the war, it was unofficially believed
that the three girls had been liberated by the Russians and that they
were possibly on their way home via Siberia, or even Sweden. This had
happened before to some survivors of the German camps. A document in
the SOE files, however, (58) dated 28 April 1945, states that SOE believed
the three girls were still at Ravensbruck! Then in April 1946 a newspaper
story about the missing girls was seen by a Mrs Julie Barry living at
Joyce Grove, Nettlebed in Oxfordshire. She was a Guernsey woman who
had been deported to Ravensbruck and allegedly forced to become a Kapo
(No. 39785) in the Strafeblock (59). Barry was in fact a Jewish refugee
who had arrived in Guernsey in July 1939 as Julia Brichta and in April
1942 married a local man Jeremiah Barry. However, she was denounced
by local Guernsey residents and deported to Ravensbruck via France on
5 May 1944 (60).
When interviewed by two War Office officials, Barry's
story was that she saw the three girls at Ravensbruck in rags, faces
black with dirt and hair matted, spoke to them and gave them food and
clothing. She especially remembered Violette Szabo.But her story cannot
be confirmed. Another British POW at Ravensbruck was Mary Lindell. Escott
quotes her (61) as affirming that the usual method of execution there
was by hanging, and she had it on reliable authority from others in
the camp that the girls clothes were returned to the stores intact after
execution. Baseden (62), however, disputes this based on information
from Mary de Moncy, who said their clothes were never returned.We will
probably never know the truth of the manner of their death (63).
Meanwhile, Vera Atkins went to Germany on her own
initiative and got herself attatched to the Nuremburg War Crimes Investigation
team (64). She began conducting inquiries in Germany on all missing
agents. At Minden prison she found and interviewed ObersturmFuhrer Johann
Schwartzhuber, SS, the Second in Command (Schutzhaftlagerfuhrer or Camp
Overseer ) at Ravensbruck, and previously a prominent prison guard at
Auschwitz, on 13 March 1946 (65).
After some strong words from Atkins, a guilty looking
Schwartzhuber admitted that the three women had been brought back from
Konigsburg and put in the cells at Ravensbruck. He then confirmed how
the girls were killed (see above) adding that a female overseer escorted
them to the crematorium yard (Barry?) but was sent back before the excecution.
He said 'All three were very brave and I was deeply moved......we were
impressed by the bearing of these women....and annoyed that the Gestapo
thermselves did not carry out these shootings.....I recognise with certainty
the photograph of Danielle Williams (Denise Bloch) and I think I recognise
the photograph of Lillian Rolfe. I know that the third had the name
of Violette.' The translation was confirmed by a German linguist Captain
Schwarzhuber also confirmed that Lilian Rolfe was
unable to walk and had to be assisted to the place of execution; this
was a long trek, from the cells via the kitchen, through the main gate,
past the garage, to the crematorium itself. Barry insists that only
Violette walked and the other two were on stretchers. Violette was shot
last and had the final agony of having to watch her friends murdered
in front of her.
Like Suhren (who also testified to the supreme courage
and cheerfulness of the girls), Schwartzhuber was sentenced to death
after his trial in Hamburg and hanged. Thus, the indefatigable Vera
Atkins was only able to write letters of condolence to the girls' families
in the Spring of 1946 and only after this evidence from Vera Atkins
was Whitehall able to issue death certificates for the three agents
- over a year after the murders.
Thus was Denise Bloch's short, brave life. Like many
others she has no known grave but her name is proudly carved on four
memorials - lest we forget!
In 1968, Alan Rolfe, brother of Lilian Rolfe who was
murdered with Denise, saw an announcement in 'The Daily Telegraph' of
24 May in memory of Denise Bloch, signed 'Dave'. After enquiries at
the newspaper, Dave replied to Alan Rolfe, and turned out to be Flt
Lt David Lomas who knew Denise when she was training in England. He
was lobbying Lambeth Council to name a block of flats after Denise Bloch,
as they had done for Rolfe and Szabo on the Vincennes Estate at Norwood,
South London. However, he never succeeded - Lambeth Council claimed
all the flats had been named already, and in July, Lomas was killed
in an aircraft crash in the Far East, it is thought. The matter was
never pursued. Perhaps it was because Denise was French - or Jewish?
- or both; we will never know. But Vera Atkins does confirm that perhaps
there had been a romance (interview 25.4.98 East Sussex), though she
pointed out that the private lives of the agents in their free time
on leave from training, was their own.
(Original correspondence in the author's possesion,
donated by Alan Rolfe to the AJEX Museum).
1 M Sugarman Jews in the SOE and French Resistance (AJEX Museum files 1998). This is an incomplete but growing list.
2 Nigel West Secret War (Hodder & Stoughton 1992, London)
3 J Gleeson They Feared No Evil, (Corgi, 1976, London) Preface
4 Gleeson 57-8
5 Foreign and Commonwealth Office files of the SOE Adviser, Sir Duncan
Stuart, un-numbered pages - henceforth F&CO
5(i) The ceremony at Ravensbruck took place on the morning
of June 10th 1993, organised and led by Gervase Cowell of the Special
Forces Club, with representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
The British Embassy in Berlin and the Ravensbruck Museum. The plaque
was unveiled by former agents Odette Hallowes-Sansom, GC, MBE; Eileen
Nearne MBE; and Yvonne Baseden MBE. Present were Vera Atkins, Francis
Cammaerts DSO (senior SOE officer in France), Brian Stonehouse, Leo
Marks (SOE Chef de Codage) with representatives from the FANY (WTS),
WAAF (WRAF), the sister of Lillian Rolfe, the daughter of Violette Szabo,
Judge John de Cunha (a prosecutor at Nuremburg) and several former members
of the French Resistance. There was a large article in the Daily Mail
on the following weekend.
6 J D Sainsbury The F Section Memorial (IWM Library,
7 R J Minney Carve Her name With Pride (Portway, London,1988)
8 Irene Ward F.A.N.Y. Invicta (Hutchinson 1955 London) 240
9 F&CO photo
10 F&CO de-brief of Denise Bloch
11 PRO (Public Record Office, Kew, London) files HS6 Series
12 Interview 24 April 1998 East Sussex . The charming and forthright
Vera Atkins (CBE, Cr. de Gu., Com. de Leg. d'Hon.) kindly agreed to
meet me on 24 April 1998 at her home in East Sussex. She was at the
time in her nintieth year but her memory as sharp as it ever was. She
was Squadron and Intelligence Officer to SOE F Section and Personal
Assistant to Buckmaster and had known all the agents over the war years
who had passed through the SOE offices in London. Her job was multi-faceted
and included briefing agents on the latest rationing regulations in
France, obtaining French tailor labels for clothing, supplying bogus
travel documents and photos of bogus husbands or wives (J Tickell Odette (Pan books,London 1949) 60).
13 Letter from Gervase Cowell, Chair of the Special Forces Club Historical
Sub-Committee, to author 13 February 1998
15 F&CO de-brief of Denise Bloch 11 June 1943 - Mendelsohn was arrested
30 October 1942 and imprisoned for a year, during which Denise's father
tried to get him, Aron and two others out, by bribing the Germans through
a lawyer for one and a half million francs. Eventually, Mendelsohn escaped
from France on 31 December 1943 and got to England on 17April 1944 -
(F&CO de-brief page 3). It seems the Bloch family were all active
in one way or the other in the Resistance!)
19 PRO file HS6/437, 6 June 1945
27 B E Escott Mission Improbable (Patrick Stephens, 1991, London)
28 West 267-69
30 Interview 24 April 1998 East Sussex
31 A group of German refugee Jewish tailors working from a secret workshop
near Oxford Circus produced these items, scouring London's synagogue
worshippers for authentic French and German labels and either buying
the clothing or borrowing items to copy for SOE agents about to be dropped
into France. Vera Atkins named a Captain Ken More who was in charge
of procuring items of this kind for SOE and other relevant agencies.The
Jewish leader of the tailoring group itself was made an honorary Captain
in the SOE! (Gleeson 25)
31a "Between Silk and Cyanide" Leo Marks, Harper Collins,London,
1998 p 474 - Make the most of it, A coast to coast, Toast of it, For what you think, Has been God-sent to you, Has only been lent to you.
32 H Verity We Landed by Moonlight (Ian Allan,
1978, London) 220
33 J O Fuller The German Penetration of SOE (W Kimber, 1975 ,
34 L Jones A Quiet Courage (Bantam, 1990 London) 127.
35 M R D Foot SOE in France (HMSO 1966 London) 88.
37 G Cowell Special Forces Club files
39 Interview 24 April 1998 East Sussex
40 Vera Atkins F&CO - henceforth VA F&CO
41 VA F&CO
42 PRO file HS6/439 (Odette Churchill, GC, in WO/309/282, alleges she
saw Denise in cells at Karlsruhe and when seen talking, Denise was badly
beaten by woman SS guard Becker - statement to 2nd Lt A W H Nicolson
14.12.46 in Hamburg.
43 Her report in PRO HS6/440
44 Mlle J Rousseau, Sancellemons, Haute Savoie - VA F&CO
45 E H Cookridge Inside SOE (London 1966)
46 PRO file HS6/437 20 June 1945 & 15 June 1945 respectively
47 Minney 168
48 Mme Renee Corjon, Bellve, Nogent sur Vernirsson, Loiret - VA F&CO
49 Mme Renee Rossier, Allegre, Hte. Savoie/3, Villa Montecalme, Paris
18 - VA F&CO
50 Mme Solange Rousseau, St Maur, S&M - VA F&CO
51 VA F&CO
52 L Jones 85
53 PRO HS6/437
54 VA F&CO
55 J Tickell Odette (Pan Books, 1949/55, London) 266-67
56 Peter Churchill The Spirirt in the Cage (Hodder & Stoughton,
London 1954 ) 234
57 Cookridge 173
58 PRO HS6/438
59 Minney Chapters 19 & 20
60 F E Cohen The Jews in the Islands of Jersey, Guernsey & Sark
during the German Occupation 1940-45 (Journal of Holocaust Education,
Vol 6, No 1 , Summer 1997, London, Frank Cass) 34-35. I am indebted
to Stephen Stodel, London, (nephew of former Jewish POW Morris Stodel,
Royal Signals), for pointing out this article to me.
61 Escott 208
62 PRO file HS6/437
63 In an unsigned leaflet - in the author's possession - apparently
produced by the PRO on 20 July 1998 when new SOE papers were released
for public scrutiny - and found at the PRO itself, it states that at
least 87% of SOE files were deliberately destroyed between 1945 and
1950, some by SOE and some by the SIS; many others have simply not been
released. The de-brief document on the fate of Violet Szabo is missing
as are many on other operations and of allegedly unfounded allegations
of treachery as well as the assassination of alleged traitors in the
field. Other documents were lost in a fire at Baker Street HQ, including
most of the files from the Polish section.
64 Interview 24 April 1998 East Sussex. After the war ended Vera Atkins
felt strongly that she should investigate what had become of all the
agents who had disappeared whilst on active service. Against the wishes
and advice of her superiors, and indeed facing some hostility, she got
herself to Germany in November/December 1945 to assess whether she could
begin to discover the truth of the fate of the missing agents and who
exactly in the Allied Occupation Forces would or could help her.
65 VA F&CO - After approaching agencies such as
the Red Cross, Military Intelligence and others, she finally spoke to
the Commanding Officer of the Legal Department. of the British War Crimes
Offices in Germany at Bad Oynhausen near Hanover (then HQ, BAOR), Group
Captain Tony Somerhough, who allowed her to interview some imprisoned
Nazis; she realised after this experience that she may make some headway
in her own investigations. Even though she was not legally trained and
that there were no vacancies in the War Crimes offices, the CO allowed
her to stay. MI5 paid her Army salary and she stoically continued with
her work - as a matter of honour - until the end, driven by her determination
to get to the truth both for herself and the families of the agents
whose whereabouts had not been known after they disappeared - and most
of all in memory of the agents themselves.
Hon. Assist. Section Officer 2071428 WAAF/SOE agent
9111 seconded to the F. A. N.Y., Muriel Tamara Byck, MiD, codename 'Violette'
and 'Michele' (1) was born on 4 June 1918 in Ealing, daughter of French
Jews Luba Besia (nee Golinska) and Jacques Byck, who had both taken
British nationality. Her parents were divorced and Jacques (born in
Kiev, Russia) was in 1943 living in New York; Luba was born in Lvov,
Russia and was living, re-married , in Torquay in 1943, as Mrs G E Leslie
at 2, Bayfort Mansions, Warren Rd, (2). Muriel joined the WAAF's in
December 1942 (3) and became a full member of the SOE in July 1943.
Muriel's background information file (4) reveals that
she spoke fluent French and moderate Russian and in 1923-4 had lived
in Germany (Wiesbaden). She went to school from 1926-30 at the Lycee
de Jeunes Filles, St Germain, France; and from 1930-35 attended the
Lycee Francais in Kensington, London, SW7, where she took the Baccalaureat
and then proceeded to University in Lille, France.
From 1936-38 she was a secretary in London; and from
1937-39 an Assistant Stage Manager at the Gate Theatre. Muriel had a
strong sense of duty and from 1939-41 was a voluntary worker in the
Red Cross,WVS and as an ARP Warden in Torquay. From 1941-2 she worked
as a National Registration Clerk in Torquay and then joined the WAAF's
as a clerk in December 1942, pending a Commission. She was recruited
into the SOE in July 1943 because of her excellent French and began
initial training in September 1943 at Winterfold, Cranleigh , in Surrey.
From here she proceeded to para-military training at Meoble Lodge, Morar,
Invernesshire until October and w/t training at Thame Park, Oxfordshire
in November/December 1943.
Whilst in training she was graded Average as a General
Agent, but with a high intelligence rating (eight out of nine), with
a high grade for Morse and Mechanical Aptitude. She was described as
' a quiet, bright, attractive girl, keen, enthusiastic and intelligent.
Alert but not very practical and as yet lacks foresight and thoroughness.
She is, however, self-possessed, independent and persistent, and warm
in her feelings for others...a girl of considerable promise who will
require much training to help her to overcome her lack of experience,
her complete ignorance of what the work really involves and her general
guilelessness. Her temperament would appear to be suitable for work
as a courier, or possibly propaganda' (5). Vera Atkins remembers her
as being very self-asssured and being comitted completely to wanting
to go into this very hazardous work, to defeat Nazism and all it stood
At Meoble she showed little aptitude for para-military
training (close combat, fieldcraft, weapon training, explosives and
demolition), except for signalling. She was not physically very strong,
though successfully completed parachute training. She was commissioned
(WAAF Hon. Assistant Section Officer) on 1 April 1944.
Muriel - petit, dark and aged 25 - was engaged to
be married to a French agent in the offices of the OSS (American Secret
Service), a Lieutenant Morange (an alias) whom she had met whilst training
(6) , and he had given her a leather covered powder compact. When her
circuit leader Major Phillipe Albert de Crevoisier de Vomecourt , DSO
(codename 'Antoine') met Muriel in London and was security-checking
her possessions before her jump, he told her she could not take the
gift with her as it was too new and nothing like it could be bought
in France. If she were caught with it, it would give her away as a foreign
agent (7). Muriel insisted on taking it but he agreed only if he could
make it look old, which he achieved by rubbing it with ammonia!
Muriel was given three sets of identity papers with
photographs that differed only by her arranging her long black hair
in different styles. Her operation was codenamed 'Benefactress' and
her forged papers named her as Michele Bernier (8). She was told that
if for any reason she had to change identities, she should inform London
of the details immediately. In fact SOE were so concerend about her
youthful looks, they gave her special training with a make-up artist
in London on how to look older by using a pencil under her eyes (9).
Her flight took off from Tempsford aerodrome near
Bedford after 4 nail-biting delays due to bad weather, and she parachuted
into France on the night of 8/9 April 1944 with agent Captain Stanislaw
Makowski, codename 'Dmitri/Maurice' (10) and two other agents, Captain
C S Hudson ('Marc/Albin') - who was her CO until de Vomecourt arrived
by plane - and Captain G D Jones ('Lime/Isidore/Gaston'). Muriel was
to work as w/t with Resistance leader de Vomecourt of Reseaux 'Ventriloquist'
in the Orleans-Blois area and train any w/t operators whom it was possible
to recruit locally (11). She was then to supply London with the details
about these new recruits so they could be given code names and status.
She was also to establish postboxes for contact should w/t break down.
Although under command of 'Antoine', she was ordered to be as self-reliant
as possible on all w/t matters. She was to take one hundred thousand
francs and for security reasons keep expenses as moderate as possible.
(Interestingly, part two of Muriel's orders (12) mentions
an emergency address - handwritten in contrast to the typed order sheets
- for her to contact should she become separated from her dropping party
and the reception committee on landing; it was Bureaux Agricoles, 10,
Place de L'Hotel de Ville, Chalcauoux. She was - in true cloak and dagger
style - to ask for M. Chabena or M. Monesher using the password, 'Je
viens de la part de Philippe voir si vouz pouviez m'aider' to which
the reply was to be 'Veuillez attendre un instant'. Curiously, written
next to this instruction is the word 'Blown', suggesting this address
had been compromised).
After landing at Issoudun she was taken to Salbris
to the home of Antoine Vincent, a member of the circuit. Here she again
met de Vomecourt and the two men took her to a meal at a small restaurant
by the level crossing just outside town. It was used almost exclusively
by Germans and when they arrived, Muriel was terrified. 'We can't stay
here' she whispered, 'let's get out while we can!' But Vincent explained
that she had been brought here deliberately to get used to the sight
of Germans and that once she was, she need not worry too much about
them. She did not enjoy her meal that day (13).
Her circuit had four transmitters in different locations
covering a wide area within a ten mile radius of Vincent's house, and
- in accordance with her orders - were constantly moved about to avoid
detection by the Germans, with transmissions being as brief as possible
(14). Her first transmission was on 7 May 1944 and she subsequently
sent twenty-seven messages and received sixteen (15). She never used
the same set consecutively or at the same hour on any day. She was thus
continually cycling from one to the other, and although many a man's
health and nerves degenerated under the stress, Muriel remained cheerful
and buoyant despite her frail and youthful looks. Rushing from location
to location, she would encode, send, receive and decode messages, always
on schedule, and on her own initiative often do this for other circuits
as well, so messages would not ever be delayed. She also acted as a
courier, alerting sabotage teams over a wide area (16).
Her base was in Vincent's junk yard, twenty-five yards
from his garage which was used as a repair shop by the Germans. Her
station consisted of a rickety hut with a rusted corrugated iron roof,
with light filtering through cracks in the wall. She was surrounded
by old tyres and car parts and the reek of oil and petrol. She had a
box and table to work at. Whilst transmitting , a guard was posted at
the yard gate to give her warning if need be.
One day in late April, (this date of de Vomecourt's
conflicts with the SOE file date given above) whilst transmitting to
London, she noticed an eye looking through a hole in the shed wall.
Her stomach lurched but she quickly switched to plain language to tell
London she was being watched. Continuing to send, she picked up the
set and approached the hole, in time to see a German soldier leaving
the yard. Full of fear, and not understanding where her lookout was,
she packed her equipment, threw dust over her box and table to disguise
the fact that anyone had been in the hut, and slipped into Vincent's
house and told him what had happened.
He decided at once to get her away in a car after
consulting de Vomecourt, who came to collect her. When the Germans arrived
- forty of them - they were already sceptical that their soldier had
actually seen a pretty woman with a transmitter in a junk yard shed!
They searched and found nothing and the soldier was given ten days detention
for wasting his officer's time.
Securely relocated in a new safe house (with the help
of the Resistance doctor Andrieux) Muriel returned to work ; her story
was that she was recovering from an illness and had come from Paris
to recuperate. She had to take medicine during the night and her hosts
should not be worried by her alarm going off at strange hours (this
was, of course, to cover her wireless operations) or visits from her
'uncle', de Vomecourt.
THE LAST DAYS
In early May it was decided by London and the circuit
to bomb the nearby German ammunition dump at Michenon. At 2pm on 7 May,
Muriel received a message from London saying that the dump would be
hit the following night.
The raid was a great success but Muriel had been shaken
by the terrific explosions which she had been quite near to. She became
very tired and listless and was moved to the house of circuit member
Dede and his wife and three daughters at Nouan-le-Fuzelier; later still
she was moved to the house of blacksmith Jourdain at Vernou, thirty
miles to the west. De Vomecourt had been away but returned when he was
told Muriel was ill and told her there was a plane leaving soon for
England and she could write to her parents. (these two letters (17)
were later delivered by de Vomecourt when he wrote - describing Muriel's
death - to her father on 6 Dec 1944).
But Muriel deteriorated seriously and collapsed at
Jourdain's home. A physician was called (in his letter to her father,
de Vomecourt says three doctors (18) attended her) and diagnosed meningitis,
saying she must be taken immediately to hospital. This was a great risk
but de Vomecourt decided it must be; she was heavily involved in her
work and much admired by all her comrades.
He went alone with her in the ambulance, to the hospital
at Romorantin saying he was Muriel's uncle, Monsieur de Courcelles,
and that they were evacuees from Paris. Whether the nuns believed him
or not they admitted the patient and did all they could to save her.
An operation was performed at 10am but she died in Phillipe's arms at
7pm on 23 May 1944 . De Vomecourt described how he 'assisted personally
at all the duties generally assumed by the family' after Muriel had
passed away (19) and that she was buried secretly in a temporary vault,
under a false name in a zinc coffin so that 'you will be able to transport
her later if you wish' (20).
De Vomecourt attended her funeral, having great difficulty
in persuading her many friends to keep away for fear of arousing Gestapo
suspicions. He followed the hearse alone through the town to the cemetery
- just escaping the Gestapo - who had come for him there - by jumping
the cemetery wall where a car awaited to whisk him away (21). After
the war Gleeson (22) alleges her family had her body brought back for
burial in England. However, Escott rightly says she was re-buried in
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Pornic, twenty kilometres
south east of St Nazaire. She lies in Plot two, Row AB, Grave eighteen
(23). When the author visited the site he discovered that the poignant
inscription reads "Here rests in peace Muriel Tamara Byck, our
only child and beloved daughter". In her will she left her savings
of £42 to her beloved fiance.
It emerged subsequently that Muriel had meningitis
as a child but she told nobody for fear of being refused enlistment
in the SOE - as there is a risk of recurrence. Such was her courage,
and determination to take part in the struggle against the Nazis.
In his letter to Muriel's father de Vomecourt added
that he would be happy to introduce him to all Muriel's many friends
in France as soon as it was possible for him to come, and that a lady
who had lost her only son in the Maquis, and at whose house Muriel had
once stayed, was writing to him and Muriel's mother to express her appreciation
of Muriel's great work and sacrifice for the liberation of France .(This
very moving letter, in French and written in March 1945, is a long tribute
to Muriel, full of praise for her wonderful personality and beauty ,
her sense of duty and hard work, her laughter and gaiety, and describes
her as a unique person, who died as a soldier, giving her life, like
the lady's son, for right and justice).
Muriel never abandoned her Jewish faith and spoke
often of her devout family in England, but she nevertheless wore, as
a good luck charm, a little gold cross given her by a Resistance man
who had met her at the parachute drop at Chateaurenault. To this day
Resistance members and their children as well as other local people,
of the Sologne area, visit her memorial at Romorantin, Loir et Cher
to lay flowers at Remembrance ceremonies (24).
Muriel is also commemorated - like Denise Bloch -
on the Knightsbridge and Valencay memorials as well the war memorial
at the Lycee Francais in Kensington. These courageous women followed
in a long and great tradition of Jews fighting back, helping dispel
the anti-Semitic myths that all went like sheep to the slaughter - or
worse, avoided fighting at all! (25)
Long may they all be remembered.
1. PRO HS6/422 notes that Denise had
the following nommes de guerre - Denise Madeline, Katrine Bernard, Danielle
Wood and Chantal Baron.
1 Cookridge 633
2 PRO HS6/467
3 Jewish Chaplains' Cards, AJEX Museum, Hackney, London.
4 SOE Foreign & Commonwealth Office files on Muriel Byck, courtesy
of Sir Duncan Stuart - henceforth F&CO Byck
5 F&CO Byck
6 F&CO Byck
7 P de Vomecourt Who Lived to See the Day (Hutchinson 1961, London)
8 F&CO Operation Instruction No F95, 26 March 1944, henceforth F&CO
9 PRO file HS6/582 - report by de Vomecourt, 11/19 January 1945
10 Foot 468
11 F&CO 95
12 F&CO 95
13 de Vomecourt 186
14 F&CO Byck
15 F&CO Byck
16 See Escott Chapter 14
17 F&CO files
18 F&CO files
19 F&CO files
20 F&CO files
21 Foot 383/de Vomecourt 202-10
22 Gleeson 57-58
23 Letter from Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 20 February 1998
24 Cookridge 377
25 For further evidence and reading on this subject, the following few
examples are required, compulsory study;
World War II - H Morris We Will Remember Them (Brassey,
London, 1989); H Morris The Addendum (AJEX, London, 1994); Martin Sugarman
A Well Kept Secret - No 3 (Jewish) Troop No 10 Commando (Medal News
, London, April 1996 - the Troop consisted of 120 virtually all Jewish
Commandos, 25% of whom were KIA);also Ian Dear Ten Commando (Grafton
Books 1987; London); Martin Sugarman Lions of Judah - The Jewish Commandos
of the SIG ( Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England
, Spring 1999; London) and Confounding the Enemy; the Jewish RAF Special
Operators of 101 Squadron, RAF (Transactions Spring 2002; London); Morris
Beckman The Jewish Brigade (Spellmount, London, 1998); Peter Masters
Striking Back (Presidio Books, 1997, USA); Martin Sugarman Jews at Arnhem,
Jews at Dieppe , Jews in the SOE/French Resistance, Jews with the Chindits,
Jews in The Korean War (Archives of the AJEX Museum, Hackney,London,
1998); Canadian Jews in WW2 (Canadian Jewish Congress, 1947-48, two
volumes, Montreal); South African Jews in WW2 (SA Board of Deputies,
1950, Pretoria); Australian Jewry's Book of Honour WW2 (Australian AJEX,
1973, Sydney); Martin Sugarman Jack Nissenthall - the VC hero who never
was (OMRS Journal Summer 1998, London, & Military Advisor, Autumn
1998, USA); Jack Lennard Jews in Wartime (unpublished manuscript, AJEX
archives, London; Y Suhl They Fought Back - Jewish Resistance in Nazi
Europe ( Schocken Books, New York 1975/67); Rabbi Louis Rabinovitz,
CF Soldiers from Judea (Gollancz, London,1944).
World War I - Rev Michael Adler British Jewry Book
of Honour (Caxton, London 1922 - reprinted by Selous Books , London,
1998); Australian Jewry Book of Honour (Lamson Paragon , Sydney,1923);
Martin Sugarman The Zion Muleteers (OMRS Journal Winter 1995, London
; also The Military Advisor Summer 1996, USA; also Transactions of the
JHSE Spring 2001); Col J H Patterson With the Judeans in the Palestine
Campaign (Hutchinson, 1922, London) and With the Zionists in Gallipoli
(Hutchinson, 1916, London); V Jabotinsky The Story of the Jewish Legion
(Yoseloff, New York,1945); P Gariepy Jewish Soldiers at Gallipolli (The
Gallipollean Journal, Winter 1996, Summer 1996, Winter 1997, London);
R Freulich Soldiers of Judea (Herzl Press 1964, Israel).
Other conflicts - Harold Pollins 11th Tower Hamlets
Volunteers - the First Jewish Unit in the British Army (Bulletin of
The Military Historical Society, February 1998, London); A Prago Jews
in the Spanish Civil War International Brigade (Jewish Currents, New
York, February 1975 - over 10,000 Jews fought against Franco's Fascists,
500 alone coming from Mandate Palestine); also David Diamint's book,
in Yiddish and French , Warsaw 1967; Paris 1979 Editions Renouveau -
same title; also Martin Sugarman List of Jews in the Spanish Civil War
(AJEX Museum, London); E Rubin 140 Jewish Marshalls, Generals and Admirals
(Jason Books 1952, London); G L Green The Royal Navy and Anglo-Jewry
1740-1820 (Naval and Maritime Books, London, 1989); several privately
published books also on Jews in the USA and Russian Armed Forces, AJEX
Archives, London; E Rosenthal Jewish Heroes of the Boer War (South African
Jewish Times, Autumn 1948 - contains several other references to the
hundreds of Jews who fought for the Boers, copies of which at AJEX Museum
archives; at the same time well over 3000 Jews fought in the British
This article could not have been written without the
help, encouragement and advice of the following individuals and organisations,
to whom I am greatly indebted -
Vera Atkins (CBE, Cr. de Gu., Com. de Leg. d'Hon.),
former SOE 'F' Section Squadron and Intelligence Officer, East Sussex.
Gervase Cowell, Chair of the Historical Sub-Committee,
Special Forces Club, London.
Leo Marks MBE (Mil.) Chef de Codage SOE
Henry Morris, Archivist, Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen
and Women Jewish Military Museum, Hackney,London.
Alan Rolfe, London, brother of the late Lilian Rolfe,
Duncan Stuart, CMG, SOE Adviser at the Foreign &
Commonwealth Office, London.
My wife Jane Sugarman, for technical advice and putting
up with my many absences from home
The staff of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
Mark Seaman and Nigel Steel, Research Staff at the
Imperial War Museum, London, and other library staff in the Reading
Staff at the Public Records Office, Kew, London and
Battersea Park Road library, London.
Sources: Martin Sugarman, reprinted with express permission