Carve Her Name With Pride, R. J. Minney

Carve Her Name With Pride, R. J. Minney

This is one of the classic works of Second World War biography, looking at the short live of Violette Szabo, one of the most famous SOE operatives. Most of the first half of the book covers Violette's life before SOE - her childhood and the personality traits that made her a good agent, her brief wartime marriage to Etieene Szabo, the birth of their child, his death at El Alamein and its impact on her. We then move on to her selection by SOE, training, her two missions to France, capture, time in captivity and eventual execution in the last days of the war. Unusually Violette's capture didn't come after a betrayal or as a result of any specially impressive German intelligence operation, but instead was the result of pure change when she and a fellow agent ran into German troops preparing the way for the SS Das Reich Panzer Division as it attempted to move to Normandy.

I'd say the earlier chapters of the book do now feel a little dated, not surprising for a 1950s look at a childhood. The later sections, on Violette's time in SOE, I prefer to more modern books on the topic, which tend to emphasise the organisations failures whereas here there is more of a feel of the urgency of the times and need to be doing something for the war effort, regardless of the danger. This is a classic tale of bravery, both under fire and in captivity, and a reminder of the urgency behind many of SOE's operations during the Second World War. Still highly recommended more than fifty years after it was first written.

Chapters
1 - Early Influences
2 - Brixton
3 - The War Breaks Out
4 - Etienne Szabo
5 - Brief Homecoming
6 - With the Ack-Ack Battery
7 - Tania
8 - The Interview
9 - Initial Training
10 - Finishing School
11 - Ready to Go
12 - Her First Mission
13 - On the Normandy Coast
14 - Home
15 - Her Second Mission
16 - The Ambush
17 - To the Rescue
18 - Into Germany
19 - Ravensbrück
20 - Waiting for News
21 - Tania Puts On Her Party Dress

Author: R. J. Minney
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 187
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011 edition of 1956 original


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