Hall, Virginia “Cuthbert”.

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Hall, Virginia “Cuthbert”, born 06-04-1906, in Baltimore, the daughter of Edwin Lee Hall, a wealthy Baltimore entrepreneur, and Barbara Virginia Hammel. She studied French, Italian and German at the prestigious American liberal arts colleges Radcliffe College and Barnard College and then left for Europe to continue her studies there. She studied in France, Germany and Austria until in July 1931, when she was appointed as an administrative assistant at the United States Embassy in the Polish capital, Warsaw. In April 1933, she was transferred to the United States consulate in the Turkish city of İzmir.

On 08-12-1933, she accidentally shot herself in the left leg when she climbed over a fence during a hunting expedition in Turkey. Her leg was trimmed below the knee and replaced with a wooden prosthetic leg which she jokingly nicknamed “Cuthbert”. During World War II, the leg prosthesis would give her the French nickname la dame qui boite (“the lady who limps”). Hall hoped for a further career with the US diplomatic service, but had to abandon that hope. Due to her accident, the US diplomatic service refused to let her take the entrance exam. In 1939 she resigned from the State Department (the United States Department of State) and went back to college, this time at American University in Washington, D.C.

At the outbreak of World War II, Hall stayed in Paris. She decided to join the French ambulance service Services Sanitaires de l’Armee and took wounded soldiers away from the front as an ambulance driver. Hall was in Vichy France, headed by French Marshall Henri Petain, on the French surrender in the summer of 1940. From Vichy France, Hall reached London in August.

British serviceIn London, Hall volunteered for the French (“F”) section of the recently established British secret service, Special Operations Executive (SOE). The British sent Hall back to Vichy France in August 1941, where she spent 15 months in Lyon under the identity of a New York Post correspondent to help coordinate the Résistance’s activities with Agent in Special Operations Executive (SOE) Jacques Theodore Paul  Vaillant de Guelis,  ... She rescued Allied airmen who had crashed in France and made sure they returned safely to England. She also arranged for Allied POW escapes, organized sabotage actions against German supply lines and supplied the Résistance by parachute.

When the Germans suddenly occupied Vichy France in November 1942, Hall was able to flee to Spain in the nick of time. After working for the SOE in Madrid for a while, she returned to London, where the British offered her an honorary membership of the Order of the British Empire in July 1943 in gratitude for merit. Hall joined the United States Security Service Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in March 1944 and returned to France at his own request. Due to her prosthetic leg, she was unable to land by parachute, so she was landed in Brittany with a British Motor Torpedo Boat. During this mission, code-named “Diane”, she managed to bypass the Gestapo and make contact with the Résistance in central France.    She mapped drop zones (places where commands and supplies could be safely landed by parachute) and found safe houses for people in hiding, such as Allied airmen who had crashed in France.

After landing in Normandy in June 1944, she contacted one of the Operation Jedburgh teams, parachuting secret agents into France, Belgium and the Netherlands to carry out sabotage and guerrilla actions. She also helped train three Résistance battalions in guerrilla warfare.

After the war In the 1950s, Hall married eight-year-younger Paul Goillot, a Paris-born New Yorker, here on the right , who also works for the OSS, whom she had met in France during the war. A year later, she joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as an intelligence analyst in French parliamentary affairs. She served alongside her husband in the CIA’s Special Activities Division.

Death and burial ground of Hall, Virginia “Cuthbert”.

In 1966, Hall retired to live on a farm in Barnesville, Maryland. She died in a hospital in Rockville, Maryland on 08-07-1982 and was buried at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland. Awards In gratitude for her earnings, she was named an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1943 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, by General  William Joseph “Wild Bill” Donovan. the second-highest U.S. military award, in 1945. She was the only non-military woman to receive this award during World War II.

 

 

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