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Blanche Charlet

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Blanche Charlet

Blanche Charlet
Birth name Valentine Blanche Charlet
Nickname Agent Japonica & Ventriloquist
Born (1898-05-23)23 May 1898
Westminster, London, England
Died 1985 (aged 87)
Camden, London, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
 France
Service/branch Special Operations Executive
French Resistance
Years of service 1942–1944
Rank Field Agent and Guerrilla Commander
Commands held Japonica
Ventriloquist
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Member of the Order of the British Empire

Valentine Blanche Charlet MBE (1898–1985) was a member of the Women's Transport Service who served with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II and worked as a courier for the French Section.

She was born in London, England on 23 May 1898.[1][2]

Charlet took over the work carried out by fellow SOE agent Virginia Hall and worked with Brian Stonehouse. She arrived by felucca[3] on 1 September 1942.[4]

On 24 October 1942 German D/F (detector) vans picked up Stonehouse's radio signals while he was transmitting to London. They tracked him down to his safe house and arrested him. Before the Germans left, Charlet arrived for a pre-arranged meeting with Stonehouse and she too was arrested by the Milice in Chateau Hurlevent near Lyon, 69.

In November 1942 she was interned in Castres Prison for her SOE activities. In September 1943 she found a sympathetic wardress and got hold of pistols and spare keys and took part in a mass break-out with French resistante Suzanne Charisse. Blanche and Suzanne reached open country and, helped by a local farmer, took refuge in a Benedictine monastery. There they sheltered in a guest house for two months before the monks took them to the escape line in the Pyrénées, but as it was winter heavy snow stopped them from crossing to Spain.[5]

In April 1944 a message from Blanche reached the SOE Headquarters in Baker Street and a pick-up was arranged from Brittany. From there she crossed the channel back to Britain.

On 19 February 1946 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by King George VI for services in France during the enemy occupation.[6]

References

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