because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Odette Sansom

In-your-face women like Odette Sansom come out of the woodwork when a war's on. Sansom was French, but living in England with her three daughters when she accidentally sent some photos to the War Office and was invited to join the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) under the Special Operations Executive. FANY operatives were the ones who went into France to work with the underground resistance network there. And Sansom didn't hesitate a minute to put her children in a convent school and get on about the business of saving France from the German occupiers.

Landing near Cannes in 1942 with information, instructions and plenty of money to help support the resistance, Sansom began work immediately, which was a good thing because, within a year, a double agent had betrayed her and she was arrested. Even though interrogators branded her and pulled out all her toenails at Fresnes Prison in Paris, Sansom stuck to her cover story which protected not only her, but her superior, who had also been arrested and was later to become her husband.

Sentenced to death and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, Sansom somehow survived the rest of the war and lived to be liberated so she could testify against her captors. Since a third of the women in the Special Operations Executive died or were executed in captivity, Sansom was the only one of them who was still alive when she received her George Cross (Britain's highest civilian honor for courage). In-your-face women hate to miss a party -- especially one thrown just for them.

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