Chevalier, Henriette “Chetta” Scerri.

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Chevalier, Henriette “Chetta” Scerri, born Henriette Scerri, in 02-04-1901, in Sliema, Crown Colony of Malta. to Emmanuel Scerri and his wife Maria born Mamo in Sliema, Malta. Henriette married Thomas Chevalier on 15-05-1920 at the Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Sliema. and they had one son: Paul Chevalier born 09-06-1925, died August 2014 (age 89)    The couple lived in Rome, where Mr. Chevalier worked as an agent for British travel company Thomas Cook & Sons, and had several children. After the death of her husband and the imprisonment of one of her sons in 1939, the British widow found herself stuck in Benito Mussolini‘s fascist state and responsible for the welfare of her children and elderly mother. Recruited into Hugh O’Flaherty‘s   network, Chevalier essentially gave O’Flaherty carte blanche to use her apartment as a storehouse and safehouse for people fleeing fascism. Despite several close scrapes — including one which one of her daughters, Gemma, hid from Chevalier — and being under constant surveillance by Adolf Hitler‘s Sicherheitsdienst, under command of Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich “The Blonde Beast”.  Chevalier and her family continued their clandestine activities under constant risk of death until being evacuated by O’Flaherty’s network one by one to a farm on the outskirts of the city where they lived out the rest of the war in hiding themselves.

Daughter Gemma (Chevalier) Sands here in the middle with flowers and with her English soldier husband Kenneth Sands, who moved escapees and supplies around Rome defying the Germans. Gemma met the English soldier Kenneth Sands, at the end of the war and after being married by the Monsignor O’Flaherty who came to Aldershot in Britain in 1946.

The Chevalier family was very proud of the contribution of their family in the organisation that saved so many lives.Mother Henriette was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) and was awarded a certificate thanking her for all that she had done by Field Marshall Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis.

Hugh O’Flaherty was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and senior official of the Roman Curia, Vatican. During World War II, he was responsible for saving 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews

In 1945, Chevalier  was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her extraordinary efforts to offer sanctuary to those in need. Henriette’s efforts are credited with directly offering assistance to these 4,000 people during the war.

Death and burial ground of Chevalier, Henriette “Chetta” Scerri.


Henriette Chevalier passed away on her native Malta on 09-07-1973, age 72, and however, no one really took notice of her on the island,  More recently a memorial garden has been planted in her honour at the Malta Aviation Museum  and she featured in a vivid children’s book called Amazing Maltese Women.

Henriette is buried at the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery. A memorial garden has been planted in her honour at the Malta Aviation Museum and was opened on 24-11- 2012.

Chevalier, Henriette “Chetta” Scerri is buried at Addolorata Cemetery, Paola, Malta.

My name is David Sands, my grandmother is Henriette Chevalier who was part of the Rome Escape Line which helped hide prisoners of war in Rome in World War II.

The organisation was run from the Vatican by Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, with an escapee Major Sam “Samuel” Derry, they had over 4,000 people prisoners hidden in and around Rome as the War in Rome heightened. Sam Derry was a member of the Royal Artillery and had been one of the thousands who escaped at Dunkirk. He was subsequently transferred to North Africa where he was captured at the beginning of 1942.

Derry managed to escape but was soon re-captured ironically by the same German unit that July. He was imprisoned in the Chieti Camp in Italy where he was invited to join and eventually take charge of the escape committee. He was moved from here before escaping but before this he had helped many other prisoners to escape. On a train journey through Northern Italy, Derry managed to throw himself from the train and escape. Derry headed to Rome and was eventually assisted by The Monsignor, who promptly asked him to join the ‘Council of Three‘ taking charge of organisational details.

A senior British officer, John Furman, who also acted as a main operator of the Rome Escape Organisation, praised Mrs M as a beacon of light in times of terror.

“What can be said of this incredible woman. I would not call her brave for it seemed to me she had no conception of fear. Her kindness and generosity were unparalleled, her maternal spirit and compassion boundless”.

The British Para Sergeant Stokes, sent her a card to thank her for the help to hide and feed him during the war. .


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