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Interesting Fea market find SOE /RAF and free French scrap book

Article about: Picked up this Interesting Fea market find SOE /RAF and free French scrap book today maybe someone knows some of the pilots shown ?

  1. #1

    Default Interesting Fea market find SOE /RAF and free French scrap book

    Picked up this Interesting Fea market find SOE /RAF and free French scrap book today maybe someone knows some of the pilots shown ?
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  3. #3
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    The scrap book of Pearl Witherington, CBE (1914-2008)? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Witherington

    Well done for saving it!

    Regards, Philip

  4. #4

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    Thankyou yes its a interesting book with a mix of photos and newspaper cutting's

  5. #5

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    great find and save.many known pilots pics and autographs.

  6. #6

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    That's a VERY interesting find. Did I see a picture of Sailor Malan amongst the photographs?
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  7. #7

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    Looks like she had a interesting Wartime service

    Pearl Witherington was born and raised in France, but was a British subject. She was employed at the British embassy in Paris and engaged to Henri Cornioley (1910–1999) when the Germans invaded in May 1940. She escaped from occupied France with her mother and three sisters in December 1940. She eventually arrived in London, where she found work with the Air Ministry. Determined to fight back against the German occupation of France, she joined the Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) on 8 June 1943. In training she emerged as the "best shot" the service had ever seen.[2]

    Given the code name "Marie", Witherington was dropped by parachute into occupied France on 22 September 1943. There she joined Maurice Southgate, leader of the SOE Stationer Network. Over the next eight months, she worked as Southgate's courier.

    After the Gestapo arrested Southgate in May 1944 and deported her to Buchenwald concentration camp, Witherington became leader of the new SOE Wrestler Network, under the new code-name "Pauline", in the Valencay–Issoudun–Châteauroux triangle. She reorganised the network with the help of her fiancé, Henri Cornioley, and it fielded over 1,500 members of the Maquis. They played an important role fighting the German Army during the D-Day landings. They were so effective that the Nazi regime put a ƒ1,000,000 bounty on Witherington's head. The Germans even ordered 2,000 men to attack her force with artillery in a 14-hour battle. Cornioley reported, "We were attacked by 2,000 Germans on the 11th June [1944] at 8 o'clock in the morning and the small maquis, comprising approximately 40 men, badly armed and untrained, put up a terrific fight, with the neighbouring communist maquis which numbered approximately 100 men."[3]

    Witherington records that the battle raged for 14 hours and that the Germans lost 86 men, while the Maquis lost 24 "including civilians who were shot and the injured who were finished off".[3] Witherington fled to a cornfield until the Germans left the area. Although the Germans broke up Witherington's unit, she quickly regrouped and launched large-scale guerilla assaults that wreaked havoc among German columns travelling to the battlefront through her area of operations.[4] The force she commanded ultimately killed 1,000 German soldiersm while suffering few casualties, and disrupted a key railway line connecting the south of France with Normandy more than 800 times. She would ultimately preside over the surrender of 18,000 German troops.[2]

    Honours[edit]

    After the war, Witherington was recommended for the Military Cross, but as a woman, she was ineligible[5] and instead was offered an MBE (Civil Division). Witherington rejected the medal with an icy note pointing out that 'there was nothing remotely "civil" about what I did. I didn't sit behind a desk all day.' She accepted a military MBE and in recent years was awarded the CBE. She was also a recipient of the Légion d'honneur.[6]

    In April 2006, after a six-decade wait, Witherington was awarded her parachute wings, which she considered a greater honour than either the MBE or the CBE. She had completed three training parachute jumps, with the fourth operational.

    "But the chaps did four training jumps, and the fifth was operational - and you only got your wings after a total of five jumps", Witherington said. "So I was not entitled - and for 63 years I have been moaning to anybody who would listen because I thought it was an injustice."[7]

    Private life[edit]

    In September 1944, Witherington returned to England where she married Henri Cornioley in Kensington Register Office on 26 October 1944; they had a daughter, Claire.

    With the help of journalist Hervé Larroque, Witherington's autobiography, Pauline, was published in 1997 (ISBN 978-2-9513746-0-7). The interviews that comprised Pauline were edited by Kathryn J. Atwood into a straight narrative in 2013 and published as Code Name Pauline. Much of her wartime service is also included in the book Behind Enemy Lines with the SAS (published in 2007 by Pen and Sword Publ., England).

    Her story has been cited as the inspiration for the Sebastian Faulks novel Charlotte Gray,[2] that was made into a film of the same name starring Cate Blanchett in 2001, although Faulks denied this in an interview with The Guardian.[8]

    On the other hand, Ken Follett specifically refers to Witherington at the end of his fictional novel, Jackdaws.[9]

    She died, aged 93, in a retirement home in the Loire Valley of France.

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