Eileene Nearne lived in anonymity for longer than it takes an American to hit the Dole-Age. Yet she did more during WWII to protect the safety of Allied troops than anyone could have imagined.
Eileen Nearne, 89, who died in her Devon home on 2 September, was one of 39 female agents sent to occupied France in her capacity as a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II.
Miss Nearne, who was fluent in French, was captured by the Germans just four months after arriving in France, but managed to persuade them she was an innocent French woman.
Her bravery and resilience continued throughout the war – she was caught again and sent to a concentration camp before being transferred to a forced labour camp in Silesia where she managed to escape.
She was later recaptured in Germany by the SS, but was again able to persuade her captors of her innocence and was released.
According to reports, she was hidden by a priest in Leipzig until the arrival of US troops.
Despite her daring adventures on the continent in the 1940s, Miss Nearne survived the war and ended her days in Torquay.
She was found dead at her home in Lisburne Square, off Babbacombe Road, on 2 September and her possessions are to be handed over to MI5.
Professor Michael Foot, who wrote a book about SOEs, described Miss Nearne as “a real heroine, although a silent one”.
Because no friends or family could be contacted when her death was discovered, until someone found what she had done during WWII she was schedule to get a “council funeral”.
I have little doubt that she would have objected.
But here is the service she was given. One that was earned.
Found via Bill Quick