Audrey Roche

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The Independent Online

Further to your brief obituary of Audrey Roche (24 March), without wishing to question her bravery, I feel that the suggestion that she was the only British woman to be decorated for bravery in the Second World War is, at best, misleading, writes Dr Mark Baldwin. Many of the British women who worked for SOE were decorated, and mentioned in despatches, for example: Pearl Witherington – Military MBE (later CBE), Croix de Guerre; Violette Szabo (née Bushell) – GC, Croix de Guerre; Lilian Rolfe – MBE, Croix de Guerre; Cecily Lefort (née Mackenzie) – Croix de Guerre. Their awards were for direct action during service behind enemy lines, and the last three lost their lives in service.

There were other SOE women who received British awards for wartime service while enrolled in British units, notably Odette Sansom (née Brailly) and Noor Kahn, both of whom won the George Cross, and Christine Granville (née Skarbeck), a George Medal winner. These women may not have been British by nationality, but their contributions should not be overlooked.

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