Hallowes, Odette "Sansom" Marie Celine

Date of birth:
April 28th, 1912 (Amiens, France)
Date of death:
March 13th, 1995 (Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, Great Britain)
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

The decorations of Odette Sansom are held in the collection of The Imperial War Museum, London.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Unit:
F Section, Special Operations Executive (SOE), War Office, British Government
Awarded on:
August 30th, 1945
Action:
For services in France during the enemy occupation.
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Unit:
F Section, Special Operations Executive (SOE), War Office, British Government
Awarded on:
August 20th, 1946
Action:
Citation:
"Mrs. Sansom was infiltrated into enemy occupied France and worked with great courage and distinction until April, 1943, when she was arrested with her Commanding Officer. Between Marseilles and Paris on the way to the prison at Fresnes, she succeeded in speaking to her Commanding Officer and for mutual protection they agreed to maintain that they were married.
She adhered to this story and even succeeded in convincing her captors in spite of considerable contrary evidence and through at least fourteen interrogations. She also drew Gestapo attention from her Commanding Officer on to herself saying that he had only come to France on her insistence. She took full responsibility and agreed that it should be herself and not her Commanding Officer who should be shot.
By this action she caused the Gestapo to cease paying attention to' her Commanding 'Officer after only two interrogations. In addition the Gestapo were most determined to discovier the whereabouts of a wireless operator and of another British officer whose lives were of the greatest value to the Resistance Organisation. Mrs. Sansom was the only person who knew of their whereabouts. The Gestapo tortured her most brutally to try to make her give away this information. They seared her back with a red hot iron and, when, that failed, they pulled out all her toe-nails.Mrs. Sansom, however, continually refused to speak and by her bravery and determination, she not only saved the lives of the two officers but also enabled them to carry on their most valuable work.
During the period of over two years in which she was in enemy hands, she displayedcourage, endurance and self-sacrifice of the highest possible order."
George Cross

Sources

  • Photo: George Cross Database
  • - Third Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 37328 published on the 26 October 1945
    - Third Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 37693 published on the 16 August 1946