The incredible true story of British special agents Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne, sisters who risked everything to fight for freedom during the Second World War. When elderly recluse Eileen Nearne died, few suspected that the quiet little old lady was a decorated WWII war hero. Volunteering to serve for British intelligence at age 21, Eileen was posted to Nazi-occupied France to send encoded messages of crucial importance for the Allies, until her capture by the Gestapo.
Eileen was not the only agent in her family---her sister Jacqueline was a courier for the French resistance. While Jacqueline narrowly avoided arrest, Eileen was tortured by the Nazis, then sent to the infamous Ravensbrück women's concentration camp. Astonishingly, this resourceful young woman eventually escaped her captors and found her way to the advancing American army.
In this amazing true story of triumph and tragedy, Susan Ottaway unveils the secret lives of two sisters who sacrificed themselves to defend their country.
Ottaway (Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have) relates the harrowing true story of Eileen Nearne and her sister, Jacqueline, both British agents with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who worked with the French Resistance in WWII. The story opens when Eileen, known to her family as "Didi" and to neighbors only as a sprightly yet reclusive old lady, dies at age 89. Strange papers are found among her possessions, and her history is revealed when her only descendant, a niece, is found. Eileen, along with her sister, was able to pass as French; Didi worked as a wireless operator sending messages between the Resistance and the SOE while Jacqueline served as a messenger, traveling all over France with packages, helping with missions, and establishing new agents. Jacqueline's workload and constant movement threatened her health, but Didi's was ruined when she was captured by the Germans and sent to a series of work camps until finally escaping. Both sisters were decorated for their wartime service, and Ottaway's riveting account details the risks they took, the friends and colleagues they lost, and their family's fate during the war.