Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Virginia Hall, Secret Agent

Virginia Hall was born in Baltimore, Maryland USA on April 6, 1906 where her father was a cinema owner. She earned her college degree at Radcliffe College where she also developed a keen interest in languages. She was fluent in French, Italian and German.

In 1931 Hall was appointed to the staff of the American Embassy in Poland. Over the next few years she worked in Estonia, Austria and Turkey. While in Turkey she suffered a devasting blow, when after an accident, she lost a leg. The US State Department had a regulation that forbid employment of people with "any amputation of a portion of a limb" and in May, 1939 she was forced to resign.

She relocated to France and was living there when World War II began. She joined the French Ambulance Service Unit, but when the German Army invaded in May, 1940, she left for England and found work in the US Embassy there.

In 1941 Virginia was recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a British special agent. She was given the code name "Marie" and returned to France where she posed as a reporter for the New York Post while helping to set up resistance networks in Vichy, France.

In early 1942 she moved to Lyons, France and worked closely with the French Resistance in that area. By the end of the year German officials became suspicious of Hall and her activivites and she was forced to leave the country.

On March 21, 1944 she returned to France as a representative of the Office of Strategic Services. After landing on the Brittany cost she joined the resistance in the Haute-Loire region. The Gestapo were now aware of her activities and return to the country where she became known as the "lady with the limp." Despite the ever-present danger in her life, she was able to inform the Allies that the German General Staff of critical information.

In 1945 she was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by President Harry S. Truman. She then joined the CIA in 1951 where she became an intelligence analyst on French parlimentary affairs.

Virginia Hall retired from the CIA in 1966 and in 1982 she passed away at the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Washington, DC.

Copyright M. A. Webb, 2004-2006. All Rights Reserved.

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