The Silent Heroines of World War 2.

A TV series concept featuring female spies during WW2

A ‘secret’ army of ordinary women from diverse backgrounds, cultures and educational backgrounds were thrown into terrifying situations. The more dangerous their missions the more they were inspired. Whether parachuted into the occupied territory or put ashore by a fishing boat on an isolated beach in the dead of night, they faced the dangers for this is what they had trained to do. For most of them, their incredible bravery and exploits are filed away on dusty shelves and forgotten. Many were unknown, as in the case of Churchill’s ‘Elite Secret Circle’, who all answered to him and were unknown to one another or anyone else except for one ‘Lord’. All others belonged and worked for SOE, Special Operations Executive. Many did not survive for they were caught, imprisoned, tortured and put to death. Of about 60 known female agents, France was the destination of 39. At least 15 were executed, 2 were liberated from camps, 1 escaped, and two died of natural causes. The rest made it back to England. This series will highlight the feats of 13 of these incredible women who possessed guts and dedication a-plenty and who deserve the glory normally accorded to missions that men were known for. This is the 1st of my idea to have a TV series featuring Female spies during WW2. All are true. The last lady died in Canada just a few years ago. She was 17 when recruited.

If they had, Two Eggs on your plate for breakfast, they were flying that night.

Churchills secret elite spies, this lady was the only female. She was a doctor and surgeon.

This is the 1st of my idea to have a TV series featuring Female spies during WW2. All are true.

Two Eggs on your plate for breakfast. Told spies flying tonight.

All the building in the prestigious square were sort after by international companies wanting Berkley Square on all letterheads and correspondence. One, however, was not fussed over such matters. It was owned by the government and named, Ministry of Economic Warfare. The only difference there was not a brass nameplate. Everyone who worked here was sworn to silence for what they were paid to do. The lady featured in my screenplay I will name Josephine. It is the first in my TV series featuring female spies in WW2. The reason for this I explain at the story end.

 

Josephine sat at her cluttered but tidy desk clutching a large magnifying glass and carefully scanned the grainy black and white photographs, they were all from photo-reconnaissance flights over France. Her exacting job was to verify if the building and places were accurate and true. Or, had the subjects been changed or altered to throw anyone scanning them off. Vital for anyone later in that area. Josephine was perfect for this role, she had lived in France, was educated there, spoke fluently and was as French as any national. As she scanned she made a note on a sheet of paper, numbering it and the photo and dropped it in one of two wire trays. Okay’ and ‘False.’ Josephine was a doctor and surgeon, work she loved and wanted to return after the war.

That day, a lady from another office knocked on her door disturbs her concentration, she lowers the glass as a lady enters.

‘Can this man sit in here and wait, as there’s nowhere else?

‘Why of course, please take a seat.’ She replies, lifting the glass without looking at him.

The man is immaculately dressed with a military bearing, which she hadn’t noticed or even cared about. He watched Josephine scanning and writing with great concentration. Five minutes pass, he coughs ‘Are you a civil servant? He asked in a friendly tone.

Josephine replies slowly scanning. ‘Heaven forbid.’

The man was looking for an answer, but Josephine’s tone was unfriendly.  But he’d broken the ice. ‘Don’t you like civil servants?

Josephine dropped paper and photo in the tray and continued. ‘I haven’t given it much thought, but believe they are efficient. The machine like people, programmed for various duties. I’m not a machine.’

He sat silent for some minutes, and in the same friendly tone asked. ‘So what do you do in here, what is your work? He leaned trying to see what Josephine was doing.

‘Either sit down or get out.’ She snapped.

He was not to be put off by an office lady.

‘I do this and that.’ She said continuing her work.

‘What is this and that exactly. I’m just a curious sole at heart, no offence intended you understand.’ He said with a false smile. ‘You must have status with your own office… I mean.’

Josephine put down her glass and pencil, clasped her fingers together and stared straight at him. ‘Oh yes, she exclaimed with pride, ‘I’m a dog’s body.’ She continued staring., He winced, shook his head meekly. ‘I suppose I deserved that, didn’t I?

‘Now excuse me I’ve a lot of work to do. I’d have thought you know better than ask questions.’

He stood up, ‘They should be ready for me now, probably forgotten all about me, don’t you think? Goodbye, been a pleasure meeting you.’

Josephine nods, carries on scanning, she murmurs. ‘Obviously a military man. Why no uniform.’

The familiar figure of Bill Weston knocks and strolls in. ‘Anything interesting for my bunch?

Josephine picks up several photos and notes. ‘Yes Bill, these are false. Now, these are good. I’ve translated the dialects also, plenty for your team to do here.’ Josephine stood and stretched as Bill left. She strolled around her office, taking in the February sky, and the drizzle. She stopped, noticing an envelope in her in tray. It is marked TOP SECRET. ‘Who put that there she pondered, she opened it and read the typewritten text. ‘

Report to Storey Gate, this evening after six-thirty. A car will be waiting to take you there. When you arrive ask for Mr Rance. This is a confidential matter for your eyes only.’ Josephine folds the paper and tucks it into her handbag, not thinking too much about it.

 

At 6.30 her phone rang. A man’s voice said. ‘Your car is here at the entrance. I shall not be waiting too long Maam.’ Josephine goes own two flights of stairs to the hall. Where a chauffeur leads her to a black car and opens a read door. The car sped off toward a place Josephine knew. The car approached a ministry looking building, it is Whitehall. The sandbagged entrance and sentry box where an armed soldier stood. Entering the building, with Coldstream guards walked about. An officer approached Josephine, ‘Can I help you.?

‘Mr. Rance please.’

The officer nods and walked to the nearby telephone. A few minutes pass, then an elderly man in civilian clothes greeted Josephine. ‘Hello, I’m Rance.’

‘I was told to report to you here, so here I am.’

Matter of factly Rance replies, ‘Follow me please.’ They descend two flight of stairs to a grey concrete basement and a long corridor. They approach a group of armed Royal Marines plus a few civilians. Rance knocks on a large heavy looking door and waits.

Josephine’s heart skips many beats when a voice calls out. ‘Come in.’ Recognising the voice immediately as she steadies herself against the door frame. Rance opens the door and ushers Josephine inside. Where she sits instantly as her legs were about to give-way. The door closed. She is alone with Winston Churchill who says, ‘Sit down.’ Josephine stands up. Churchill smiles, motions her to sit.

‘I had to sit down sir, my legs were about to collapse under me, I’d no idea I was about to meet you.’

Churchill is dressed in a crumpled battle dress type outfit, and sat looking over his glasses, he smiled. ‘I was given to understand you are in complete control of your nerves at all times. From this day forth, it is necessary to meet in this mysterious fashion., you are now in my secret circle of only twelve members. You are the only women among them. You will not know one another or meet at any time.’

Josephine sat there transfixed, startled at a new career. Churchill passes her a glass of water. ‘I understand you fly.’

‘I have flown an aircraft sir.’

‘Are you correcting me? he asked sternly.

Josephine quips to herself as Churchill reads her history. He hears her murmur, ‘I thought perhaps you expected me to have wings!

‘If you have something to say, say it, and be done with it.’ His stare froze her

‘No sir, I saw the funny side of your question, do I fly sir.?

Churchill nods his head coughs and grins. ‘I see you have a sense of humour, a good sign. Why did you learn Ju-Jitsu at the Sorbonne?

‘Male students getting fresh, I had to put them in their place. Two left me alone after they fell down a down some stairs.’

‘I trust they were not badly injured! Churchill asked, sipping water and smiling.

‘Oh no sir, just badly bruised in mind and body. All good fun you know.’

‘How did you come so familiar with French dialects?

‘I spent much of my childhood and education there sir.’

‘You seem to have a quick brain,’ he looked up. ‘Almost as quick as mine.’

Josephine only murmured, ‘Really sir.’

‘Whether you realize it or not you have many valuable assets. Your detailed knowledge of France, their customs, many dialects. This with your retentive memory, photographic mind, can all be used in the service of your country.’

Josephine takes a long drink of water. Churchill waits for her to finish. ‘You are naturally wondering how? We are shortly to be joined by a man who will explain everything to you. I will not tell you his name. We will simply refer to him as, ‘The Major.’ And speaking of names.’ Churchill pins Josephine with a very bright blue stare. Your initials are J.B. That would not do now, would it? Yes.’ He pondered, how about your code-name being J.B. Yes, that’s who you are from this minute hence.’

A knock at the door, it opens with an answer. A man enters looks at Josephine and Churchill. Josephine remains perfectly still and quiet. It’s the man who sat in her office earlier that day. Churchill will not accuse Josephine of not being in control of her nerves ever again.

‘You have already met the major, you remember him of course.

‘Josephine remains calm, and replies confidently, ‘Should I sir?

Churchill laughs and slaps his thigh. ‘I knew we had made the right choice major.’ There’s silence for some seconds. Churchill turns to face Josephine. ‘J.B. you will have to give up your identity in the service of your country. All records of your association with, FANY-First Aid Nursing Yeomanry have been removed. You will live-for the time being in a flat in Sloane Street. This means a complete break from friends and family, they must not under in any circumstances know of your work. Just say you are on special work at M.E.W. Requiring an address change. Your three brothers are serving army officers as is your Colonel husband. Any distraction will undoubtedly effect your work your work in my circle. I gather too you are rather angry with you thinking you have a ’Cushy Job’, he nods and smiles. So it suits all concerned that you have a part-time job there. Your cousin substituting when your away. Only the major and four others know of your existence. He pauses and sips water.

Josephine says ’My cousin is fluent in French and good at acting sir. She will enjoy it.’

‘She looks like you also.’ Josephine realizes they already have done a great deal on all her life. Churchill continues. ‘After you are settled in Sloane street a Royal Engineers Major will escort you to and from Templeford.’

‘And where is this aerodrome sir?

‘I prefer the word Airfield. Please use it in future, It’s between Bedford and Cambridge. A fighter pilot will fly a Lysander.’

Josephine mistakenly interrupts him. ‘Excuse me sir,’ then realizing her mistake continues confidently. ‘I will never be able to parachute jump sir. It will kill me.’

‘Keep quiet and listen to me J.B. You are not expected to parachute. You will be landed is that perfectly clear? He stared hard at Josephine.

Feeling uneasy Josephine replies, ‘Thank you sir’.

‘Now down to business J.B. We will meet again. Good luck’.

Josephine smiles raises her eyebrows. ‘I’ve a feeling I’m going to need it sir, and plenty of it.’

Churchill leans across his desk, extends his broad hand. ‘You’re perfect for the role, couldn’t have picked a more suitable lady myself. You are in god hands from now on.’

The major enters beckons Josephine follows him.

Churchill says, ‘Take care of her major’.

‘Rest assured sir. Don’t know there’s much we can teach her, particularly with her Ju-jitsu training’.

Churchill smiles. ‘Maybe she can teach us a thing or two’.

Josephine remains silent, doesn’t look back at Churchill.

The End.

Unfortunately, there was a fire shortly after WW2 where much of the paperwork relating to WW2 allied agents was destroyed.

There is no way I can prove Josephine Butler’s story is true. Churchill ensured his Elite Secret Circle’s records would never be found. I am of course very privileged when fate took a hand that day in Devon and thank either Mr. Blaketon or Hall told me how he came to publish the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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