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Phyllis Latour Doyle

Special Operations Executive (SOE)

Phyllis was an SOE Operative (who began as an aircraft mechanic in the RAF).

She was born in 1921 on a ship in Durban Harbour to a French father and English mother.

Both her parents died while she was young and she went to live with her father's cousin in French Equatorial Africa.

She was motivated to get into the war as those close to her were victims of the war. In 1941 she travelled to England and joined the WAAF as an aircraft mechanic. In 1943 she was recruited into the SOE as a Field Agent (spy) because she spoke fluent French, and was extremely attractive and intelligent. She parachuted into France and coordinated with the French Resistance while cycling around the countryside selling soap.

The German Gestapo had tried to track down the British Agent who sent over 100 messages under the code name "Genevive". At one point she was interrogated by the Germans but evaded incarceration because they neglected to examine the ribbon in her hair (which was where she kept her secret codes!).

In the run up to D Day, she worked gathering information on German troop movements and wired crucial messages back to allied HQ.

Phyllis (Pippa) married after the war and had a family - not mentioning anything about her wartime escapades to them until they came across her wartime activities via the internet in 2000!

Phyllis was awarded several prestigious medals for her exemplary wartime service including the French Coix de Guerre, the Legion of Honour, as well as the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Further reading in What's in a Name: Genevive Lane