“What Did Auntie Do In The War?”
With the interest in Alan Turing and actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant portrayal of the much maligned mathematician in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game,” thoughts of my Auntie come to mind. At the age of 20, my Auntie was fluent in French and decided to volunteer to become a Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.) – Churchill’s secret army, which later morphed into MI-6 – British Secret Intelligence Service, which supplies the British government with foreign intelligence.
She was assigned to be a liaison officer for the French Resistance. Her file is closed until 2020, however, I can review her file in the presence of a Minister of Defense officer in the British Military at the British Archives in London. What was the difference between the Bletchley Circle crowd, of which Turing was a member of those trying to crack the Enigma code, and the S.O.E.? It was that the S.O.E. employed a rag tag group, including known homosexuals, con men and con women, Communists, anti-Colonialists, double and triple agents and even an officer who could not stop cross dressing! Whereas at Bletchley, Turing had to keep his homosexuality under wraps, because it was illegal at the time. I can’t imagine what my Auntie was doing among the S.O.E. crowd – except to serve her country at all costs. Churchill supposedly said, “Whatever or Whoever will help us win the War!” Ian Fleming, who was in Naval Intelligence, put James Bond in the more adventurous S.O.E.
I hope one day soon to uncover exactly what my Auntie did in the war. My mind reels with the possibilities of how she used her talents to carry out her role therein. Did she meet Ian Fleming, per chance? Did she ever run across Alan Turing? What did she do?
One thing I do know is that she went on to have an illustrious career in the international diplomatic corps.
Here’s to you, Auntie! I wish I had known you better!