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The Spy Who Loved: the secrets and lives of one of Britain's bravest wartime heroines

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A week after the dismissal of Skarbek and Kowerski, on 22 June 1941 Germany began its Operation Barbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union, predicted by the intelligence the couple had passed along to the British from the Musketeers. Kowerski, who was under less suspicion than Skarbek, eventually cleared up any misunderstandings with General Kopański and was able to resume intelligence work. At one point, she was issued a loaded revolver, a razor-edged commando knife, a compass hidden behind her hair clip, a magnifying glass in the end of a cigarette lighter, and a round, brown, rubber-coated cyanide tablet sewn into the hem of her skirt. With the assistance of a Belgian liaison as well as a bribe of two million francs, Christine was able to secure their release: Cammaerts and the two fellow agents walked free.

She introduced herself as Cammaerts' wife and a niece of British General Bernard Montgomery and threatened Schenck with terrible retribution if harm came to the prisoners.The SOE officer who recruited her, Patrick Howarth, later said jokingly that "the most useful thing I did in World War II was to reinstate Christine Granville". However, what is little spoken about are the Polish mathematicians and code breakers who were instrumental in breaking the codes as far back as 1932. When her death was recorded at the Royal Borough of Kensington's register office, her age was given as 37, the age she claimed on her British passport. In January 1941, when Britain's ambassador to Budapest, Sir Owen O'Malley, produced passports in false names for Skarbek and her partner Andrzej Kowerski, the two Poles chose the names "Christine Granville" and "Andrew Kennedy". Arkady Fiedler noted that, ‘he was still beautiful and beguiling, aquiline, but impossibly gloomy and capricious, and so naturally the marriage was bound to fall apart quickly.

She was described as a "flaming Polish patriot, expert skier, and great adventuress" and "absolutely fearless". They were smuggled out of Hungary and into Yugoslavia and then, hidden in the boots of two cars, they fled Nazi occupied Europe and eventually made it safely to SOE headquarters in Egypt. From this point on her usual address was the Shellbourne Hotel, 1/3 Lexham Gardens, in Kensington, where she had a regular room on the first floor. Her resourcefulness earned her a great reputation for bravery which was in evidence again when she successfully rescued resistance compatriot Cammaerts and two other agents from the Gestapo.

Both Krystyna and Andrzej were released after suspicions that they were suffering from tuberculosis which is extremely contagious. The Goldfeder financial empire had almost completely collapsed, and there was barely enough money to support the widowed Countess Stefania. A British Embassy driver smuggled Skarbek out of Hungary and into Yugoslavia in the trunk of O'Malley's Chrysler. Skarbek had promised Waem he would not be arrested by the British, and battled with SOE leaders with some success to protect him. A year later, to her mother’s displeasure, Krystyna moved to Africa with her husband, who was offered a position at the Polish embassy in Abyssinia.

Although she was temperamental, we remained friends; I preferred to build a pleasant atmosphere full of fun and wild whimsy with her at a restaurant or dance hall table, rather than to dally with her. The unwanted suitor proposed to the former agent, and when she rejected him, he attacked her with a knife.

and dashing men", The Spy Who Loved, by Clare Mulley: review by Nigel Jones, The Telegraph, Saturday, 14 July 2012. Their year-long affair is most likely a fabrication, as is the theory that Skarbek served as the basis for Vesper Lynd, a character from Fleming’s first James Bond book, Casino Royale. This blog looks at the carefully-thought-out methods used by Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents to pass as members of the local population in Nazi-held territory. More importantly, the intelligence she gathered in her espionage was a significant contribution to the Allied war effort, and she was awarded the George Medal, the OBE, and the Croix de Guerre.

Together they would travel through Nazi-held territory, keeping the lines of resistance communication open and even managing to escape a German offensive by hiking almost 70 miles to escape the carnage. She was out every moonlit night organising a reception committee to collect the canisters dropped by Allied aeroplanes on the plateau. Gizycka, Krystyna (known as Christine Granville); Poland; Crown Service; c/o General Headquarters, Middle East, Cairo. She eventually found work as a stewardess on board two passenger ships sailing to Africa, which turned out to be another source of humiliation.On 21 December 1939, now as a British agent, she was sent to Hungary, where she pretended to work as a journalist for two years. Christine’s bravery had been instrumental in saving countless lives and keeping the resistance movement throughout Europe sustained during the most difficult times of the war. General Butler arrived and disapproved of the proceedings, threatening Skarbek and Cammaerts with arrest and court martial if they did not leave.

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