Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Carve Her Name With Pride

Violette Bushell was the daughter of a French mother and English father who had met during World War I, born in Paris in 1921. She grew up in London and was working in a department store in Brixton when the war broke out. Aged 19, after a whirlwind romance, she married Etienne Szabo, a 31-year-old French officer whom she met in July 1940. The couple had a daughter, Tania, but Etienne never saw her as he died at the Battle of Alamein in 1942.

Violette Szabo had joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1941 and, following her husband's death, she offered her services to the British Special Operations Executive. Fluent in French, she received intensive training and was parachuted into occupied France near Cherbourg in April 1944. Code-named 'Louise', she helped reorganise a French Resistance network that had been broken up by Germans and reported on factories being used by the Germans.

After returning to England for five weeks, she returned to France a few days after D-Day and was working with the Maquis sabotaging communication lines. She was captured by Germans when a car in which she was a passenger was stopped at a German roadblock. In Limoges, she was interrogated for four days before being moved to Paris and then to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she suffered from hard labour and malnutrition before being executed on or around 5 February 1945, aged only 23. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre.

R. J. Minney's Carve Her Name With Pride was published in 1956 and filmed the following year. Released in February 1958, the film starred Virginia McKenna and Paul Schofield. More recently, two further biographies have appeared: Violet Szabo: The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway (2002) and Young, Brave and Beautiful (2007), the latter an exhaustive study of her mother's two missions by Tania Szabo.

Carve Her Name With Pride by R. J. Minney (London, George Newnes, 1956)
Pan Books G103, (Jan) 1958, 190pp, 2/6. Cover by Cy Webb, Movie tie-in.
Fontana 1486, 1965, 190pp, 3/6.
----, 2nd imp., Nov 1965.
----, 3rd imp., May 1967, 190pp, 3/6. Photo cover
Fontana 2104, 4th imp., 1969, 190pp.
----, 5th imp., Jun 1971, 190pp

(* With thanks to Curt Purcell for the additional scan.)


  1. Curt,

    Thanks for pointing out the additional cover. I presume this is still Fontana 1486... but which printing? I'll post a thumbnail for those folks who don't have flickr accounts, if that's OK?

  2. Hey Steve--it's the "Fifth Impression June 1971." The number on the spine is actually 2104. It remains 190pp. Please feel free to use my scans in any size. You've been a great resource for me, and I'm only too happy to return the favor.

  3. Hi Steve,
    According to Nigel West in Counterfeit Spies,
    1998, there was never any evidence that Mrs. Szabo or any other woman was tortured during the occupation. The story was "completely fictitious," part of the Allies plan for de-Nazification after the war was over.



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