Posts Tagged ‘ian fleming’

Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax

Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax

Admiral the Hon. Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, KCB, DSO, JP, DL was the splendidly named British half of the Anglo-French delegation sent to Moscow in August 1939 to discuss with Stalin a possible anti-Nazi alliance. This was before the outbreak of war between Britain and Germany in September 1939.

Many historians have argued that Drax was a blimpish member of the naval hierarchy, when sending a general would be more appropriate, and that the delegation was deliberately lowly. The delegation was also sent by sea in an elderly passenger ship The City of Exeter, which took five days to get to Leningrad, arriving on 10 August. It was also said that the British Embassy in Moscow was appalled at the low status of the delegation, which ought to have been headed by Lord Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, himself, as had been previously requested by the Soviet Ambassador in London, Ivan Maisky. However before he left, Drax had been told by Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, and Halifax, to try and spin the negotiations out until October when winter conditions would make a Nazi invasion of Poland difficult. Maisky also found out from intelligence reports that the delegation would not be able to make any decisions on the spot. Negotiations dragged on for ten days despite an invasion of Poland by Germany becoming more and more likely.

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Christine Granville, Polish-born, British Second World War secret agent

Christine Granville, Polish-born British WWII secret agent

Over 140 agents from the highly secret Special Operations Executive (SOE) died in Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War. The SOE was formed in July 1940 on the direct orders of the prime minister, Winston Churchill, who wanted a clandestine army ‘… to set Europe ablaze’. If captured, these agents faced severe interrogation, and possible torture and execution. Over 60 women served in the SOE.

In Kensal Green Cemetery in west London is the grave of one of the women who survived the war, Christine Granville (born Krystyna Skarbek in Poland), who became celebrated for her daring exploits in intelligence and irregular-warfare missions in Nazi-occupied Poland and France. She became a British agent months before the SOE was founded, and began using the nom de guerre Christine Granville in 1941, a name she legally adopted on naturalisation as a British citizen in December 1946. Skarbek was one of the longest-serving of all Britain’s wartime women agents, and she was awarded the George Cross in 1944, and the Croix de Guerre in recognition of her contribution to the liberation of France.
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