Press Release (ePRNews.com) - BASINGSTOKE, England - Apr 07, 2017 - Five minutes’ walk from the Pilgrim Country House Hotel, located midway between Ross-on-Wye and Hereford in the village of Much Birch, is one of the UK’s smallest and most unusual museums dedicated to Violette Szabo, an agent of SOE (Special Operations Executive) during the second World War.
During her vital work as a secret agent, Violette was twice sent to occupied France; the first time she returned safely but the second time she was captured and ultimately shot.
She became the first woman to be awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian award for bravery, usually regarded as the equivalent to the Victoria Cross, and was also awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French.
Born Violette Bushell to an English father and French mother, she was raised in London and, at the outbreak of the war, she joined the Land Army, then met and married an officer of the French Foreign Legion, Etienne Szabo, who was killed in action at El Alamein.
A few months after her husband died, while her bitterness towards the Germans was still raw, she was approached by the Special Operations Executive, who wanted to recruit bilingual secret agents for deployment in occupied Europe.
There followed a series of hair-raising missions to France, liaising with the local Resistance. Her final mission, in June 1944, sealed her fate.
While driving one of the leaders of the Maquis to a secret rendezvous, she was stopped by a 400-strong unit of the elite Waffen SS. The pair fled across the fields but, although the Maquis chief escaped thanks to covering fire from his companion, Violette herself was captured, interrogated and tortured.
After a spell in a Paris prison, she was deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany and, in February 1945, executed by firing squad. She was just 23.
The museum is at the rear of ‘Cartref’, the small cottage, in the village of Wormelow, where she stayed on her visits to Herefordshire from her teens onward. During the war, she returned to Cartref nursing bandaged limbs after an accident during parachute training (but nobody knew about her secret missions to France).
On 25 June, Ray Mears will be at the museum on a special celebratory day to give a talk about Violette story as he is passionate about her courage and the story of her life. It is open from 11.30-1pm and 2.30-4pm every Wednesday from April-October or by appointment.
For further information call 01981 540 477.
A two-night midweek stay at the Pilgrim Country House Hotel costs from £99 per person (dinner, bed and breakfast, two people sharing a room).
Call 01981 540 742 (www.pilgrimhotel.co.uk). Source :
The Pilgrim Country House Hotel