02 November 2013

Odette Wilen (1819-2015)

Odette Victoria Wilen (code name Sophie) was a wireless operator who was parachuted into France on 11 Apr 1944 to work with Maurice Southgate and Pearl Witherington. Southgate stated in his PF that: "On the very first night of her arrival in Montluccan we put her on a test, and she proved to be useless as a W/T. I sent a report about her to London in March '43."

Pearl (code name Marie) had trained with Odette and was shocked when Odette admitted that she didn't know her codes: "They sent a radio operator without knowing her codes. This is impossible. So I said to Maurice, 'You'll have to get rid of her. You cannot keep her.' It was too dangerous. Anyway, I took her away and said, 'Stay there till I come and get you.' And when I went to get her, she had gone...she made her own way back and was back in London by August."

Pearl thought that Odette had traced her fiancee and worked with him until he was arrested and then returned to London. Southgate's version differs slightly, he says that Pearl took Odette to her fiancee in Le Blanc in agreement with London. Odette was never used again by SOE having proved she was unprepared and unsuited for the work.

Found at: The Women Agents of the Special Operations Executive F Section-Wartime Realities and Post War Representations by Elizabeth Kate Vigurs

Update: Odette (Wilen) Strugo died in Argentina in September 2015.

1 comment: