Britain's first female Special Agent of the Second World War

Christine Granville OBE, George Medal, Croix de Guerre

Christine Granville, born Krystyna Skarbek in Poland. Courageous and audacious, Christine went on to be a true British war hero that put everything on the line for freedom and independance.
Britain's most highly trained agent, an accomplished Parachutist and wirelss operator. Christine was Britain's longest serving female agent.

Early Life

Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek, OBE, GM. Born 1 May 1908 – 15 June 1952, also known as Christine Granville, was a Polish agent of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War. She became celebrated for her daring exploits in intelligence and irregular-warfare missions in Nazi- occupied Poland and France. She was described by those who knew her as the "bravest of the brave" and SOE Spymaster Vera Atkins described Skarbek as "very brave, very attractive, but a loner and a law unto herself."

First female

Skarbek became a British agent months before the SOE was founded in July 1940. She was the first female agent of the British to serve in the field and the longest-serving of all Britain's wartime women agents. Her resourcefulness and success have been credited with influencing the organisation's decision to recruit more women as agents in Nazi-occupied countries. In 1941 she began using the alias Christine Granville, a name she legally adopted upon naturalisation as a British subject in December 1946.


Skarbek's exploits were recognised with award of the George Medal. Several years after the Digne incident, in London, she told another Pole and fellow World War II veteran that, during her negotiations with the Gestapo, she had been unaware of any danger to herself. Only after she and her comrades had made good their escape did it hit home: "What have I done! They could have shot me as well."


In May 1947 she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), an award normally associated with officers of the equivalent military rank of lieutenant colonel, and a level above the most usual award of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) given to other women agents of SOE. French recognition of Skarbek's contribution to the liberation of France came with the award of the Croix de Guerre.

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