D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II
Three women: a young mother, an aristocrat, and a resistance organizer work behind the scenes in order to set up a successful D-Day invasion. Among thirty-nine other recruited spies, part of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), these women planned careful attacks on the enemy, gathered essential intelligence, and played an important role in WWII. A testament to the power of female leadership and willpower, this well-research account is inspiring and educational.
The dramatic, untold true story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to sabotage the Nazis and pave the way for Allied victory in World War II.
In 1942, the Allies were losing, Germany seemed unstoppable, and every able man in England was fighting. Churchill believed Britain was locked in an existential battle and created a secret agency, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), whose spies were trained in everything from demolition to sharp-shooting. Their job, he declared, was “to set Europe ablaze!” But with most men on the frontlines, the SOE did something unprecedented: it recruited women. Thirty-nine women answered the call, leaving their lives and families to become saboteurs in France. Half were caught, and a third did not make it home alive.
In D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the story of three of these women. There’s Odette Sansom, a young mother who feels suffocated by domestic life and sees the war as her ticket out; Lise de Baissac, an unflappable aristocrat with the mind of a natural leader; and Andrée Borrel, the streetwise organizer of the Paris Resistance. Together, they derailed trains, blew up weapons caches, destroyed power and phone lines, and gathered crucial intelligence—laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war. Stylishly written and rigorously researched, this is an inspiring story for our own moment of resistance, in which women continue to play a vital role.