Book Review – September 2014 – Sallie Eden

Carve Her Name With Pride by R J Minney

MinneyCarveOriginally published in 1958 and reprinted by Pen & Sword Military in 2012; also available in hardback and for kindle. The book was the basis of the 1958 film of the same name, starring Virginia McKenna. Jack Warner and Paul Scofield.

This is the story of Violette Bushell, born in Paris to a working class English father and a French Mother. The family later moved to London and in 1940 she married Etienne Szabo, a Captain in the French Foreign Legion who died at El Alamein shortly after the birth of their daughter.

Violette was keen to help the war effort in a more active role than she was initially offered and was eventually recruited into the SOE, where she underwent secret agent training.

In June 1944, she was parachuted into France to help co-ordinate the work of the Resistance movement. She was captured by the SS and interrogated by the Gestapo before being sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she was executed in early 1945, aged 23.

Brave and beautiful, high spirited and well liked, her life was short but full of fun and adventure. Minney’s writing is a bit dated by modern standards but nothing can detract from the incredible bravery shown by Violette and her companions in arms.

Incredibly moving. I can pay no greater tribute to all of them than to quote from the letter sent by the War Office to her parents “It is testimony of that courage that she impressed and moved even those responsible for her death.” Read it.

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