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October 2015 Meeting Report

The Spy Who Loved The Remarkable Story of Christine Granville, A Biographical Book by Clare Mulley

Born Christine Skarbek in 1915, she was a Polish countess with a wealthy Jewish mother. She was very passionate and had two husbands and many lovers.

Christine loved freedom and World War II put her centre stage as Britain's first female special agent.

In September 1939 she married her second husband en route to South Africa, but with the outbreak of war decided to return to support her country. However, Warsaw had fallen during her journey back to Europe so she went to London to the British Secret Service where she demanded to be allowed to join.

Christine was very courageous and knew how to get in and out of occupied Europe quietly, bringing money and propaganda radio messages to the British underground movement. She met Andrew Kennedy and together they had many exploits and some amazing escapes. These included setting up escape route from Poland and Hungary including helping pilots to safety, running away from the Germans and once going without food for four days. Andrew used to hide information in his false leg.

On one occasion, being trapped when German officers came into the room to interrogate them, Christine showed great presence of mind and pretended to display TB symptoms by biting hard on the inside of her mouth causing it to bleed. The Germans released them immediately.

Christine loved to tell a good story and used these stories in her work as a special agent.

Christine was awarded the George Medal, OBE, and the Croix de Guerre for her war work, and not wanting to be stateless after the war she shamed the British government into making her a British citizen. In 1952 she was murdered in a south London hotel room.

The book's author found research difficult as many papers had been destroyed, but she was able to visit the Polish home of Christine's family, met Andrew Kennedy's niece, and tried on some of Christine's jewellery.

Clare Mulley was a very interesting and lively speaker.

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