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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Eileen Nearne SOE

The funeral took place today of Eileen Nearne in Torbay (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-11309418). Eileen was an SOE agent who chose to keep this fact a secret throughout her life.

In Sarah Helm's A Life In Secrets: the Story of Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE Vera, the home-based controller of agents, toured Europe after the war to trace what happened to lost agents. Some had died in action, others were murdered in extermination camps. Eileen escaped from Ravensbruck, and told of two other English girls who escaped. She was picked up at the end of the war by the Americans so found her story far-fetched and fanciful. Vera knew however that the parachute drop, radio communications and work with the resistance were absolutely true. In camp, she worked in the fields, then as slave labour in a munitions factory, and later on 12 hour days as a road builder. It was then that she and some French friends hid in a forest and were protected by a local priest until the Americans came.

What would we all do if we knew that world freedom depended on what we personally did or did not do? The men and women of SOE and all other services, some paying with their lives, have bequeathed us the free world that we enjoy.

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