September 23rd, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Secrets of British spy 'Agent Rose' revealed in death

Mourners pay their respects to "Agent Rose" at her funeral in England.

Everyone knew her as Eileen Nearne, an 89-year-old who lived alone in her flat in Torquay, a quaint British seaside town.

Few knew of her secret life as "Agent Rose."

Nearne's dramatic past as a spy instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany was revealed when she died and was given a lavish, media-attended funeral this week. It was the kind of attention Nearne reportedly worked most of her life to avoid.

"Nearne was one of only a few dozen women spies in an organization set up by Winston Churchill, called the Special Operations Executive," according to NPR reporter Philip Reeves, who captured sound of the funeral.

Nearne's mission was to support the French resistance. A fluent French speaker, she was dropped into Nazi-occupied France to work as a radio operator. Nearne, reportedly 23 at the time, was captured and tortured by the Gestapo, then sent to a concentration camp, from which she made a daring escape, Reeves reported.

Police found among her possessions a Croix de Guerre medal awarded by the French government after World War II, The New York Times reported.

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Filed under: France • United Kingdom
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Howie

    Hi, Agent Rose, was one brave lady, there are no real words that can pay tribtue to what she did, only thougths.

    I slaute her. Howie.

    September 23, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Floria sigmundi

    I think cover ups and conspiracy theories are so cool.

    Check out this YouTube video

    September 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rollo javier

    Long live the spies!

    September 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim Brieske

    Wow, what a woman! Parachuted in Nazi held France and set up a line of communication to England. Amazing. Remember Granada? Our soldiers used an island telephone to call an operator in the U.S. to be connected to a Navy ship offshore. Just thought of that to compare how difficult World War II was to more modern times. I wonder how difficult a World War III would be today? I don't think we would win. The Chinese or Russians would.
    I think our best bet would be to have a couple hundred well trained Chinese American soldiers (who all speak Chinese) secretly enter Beijing before the war started. Have them kill all the Chinese leadership. Then announce on Chinese television they have taken over. As if they are real Chinese citizens. The same applies for Russia. It depends on who we would be fighting against. The best bet is to have both strikes teams trained and ready.
    No sense in fighting a war we can't win. But we can take over control of their governments because of the disconnect that exists.
    Iran also.

    September 23, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. La Piovra

    There was a time in history we should all learn more about, in all its complexity, treachery, sell-outs, bigotry, and sheer grit. Fewer and fewer remain alive who can tell it at first hand. I am lucky enough to have known many while they were still living; I was not lucky enough to know Agent Rose.

    September 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. phil

    WW2 has it's historical merit tio say the least. Yet this alone doesn't explain the war's huge fan base. It's almost as if WW2 is but a mere form of entertaimenthese days.

    September 24, 2010 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |