Happy birthday to Odette Hallowes, born on this day in 1912!
Stricken with polio at age seven, she spent a year blind and another without the use of her limbs.
Though that might have been enough adversity to last many of us a lifetime, as an adult, she became an Allied Intelligence agent during World War II and went to Nazi-occupied France to work with the Resistance. Unfortunately, an Abwehr counterintelligence agent infiltrated the operation of which she was a part, and she was arrested and tortured with a red-hot poker. Even so, she didn’t deviate from her cover story.
The Nazis sentenced her to death, put her in Ravensbruck concentration camp, but, probably because her adherence to that cover story conned them into believing she was related to Winston Churchill, didn’t actually execute her. After the end of the war, she testified against guards who’d committed war crimes.
The more you find out about the female Allied Intelligence officers who served behind enemy lines during the war, the more impressive they look. Agent Peggy Carter’s adventures may be fantasy, but her cool, dauntless personality seems pretty much taken from real-life examples.