The Violette Szabo GC Museum

By Richard Moss

Violette Szabo was one of hundreds of spies to sacrifice her life in service of the Special Operations Executive whilst on active duty in occupied Europe. After a successful SOE mission to Rouen in the early part of the war, the Germans captured her on her second mission, shortly after D-Day.

Left: a tragic wartime heroine - in common with thousands of women during World War Two, Violette Szabo suffered the loss of her husband whilst on active duty. He died during the Battle of El Alamein in 1942. It is said it was this bereavement that fatefully led her to volunteer for perilous missions with SOE. Picture courtesy - Violette Szabo GC Museum.

Captured spies on both sides could expect little other than death by firing sqaud, but for captured allied agents there was also the prospect of torture at the hands of the Gestapo and a period in a concentration camp. Some agents, like Szabo's fellow SOE operative Odette Churchill, were liberated by the Allied advance, others were not so lucky. Szabo's life ended brutally - murdered by the Gestapo at Ravensbruck concentration camp in 1945, days before the American liberation.

For her heroism, Violette Szabo was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1946. It was received from the King by her orphaned four year old daughter Tania.

Right: Miss Rosemary Rigby's House, Cartref, once belonged to Szabo's aunt and uncle. Violette herself spent many happy holidays at the beautiful Herefordshire retreat and it is this that inspired Rosemary to open the museum.

Miss Rosemary Rigby, MBE, has created a museum at the rear of her home as both a poignant memorial to Szabo and a celebration of her life. Panels on the wall tell her life-story and visitors can view photographs, letters and other documents.

Left: a plaque was placed on the wall of Miss Rigby's house on the 26 June 1988 to commemorate the life of Violette Szabo.

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