This Week’s Book Review – Code Name: Lise

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Book Review

“Code Name: Lise” reads like a thriller and a romance, yet is solid history

By MARK LARDAS

Apr 9, 2019

“Code Name: Lise, The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy,” by Larry Loftis, Gallery Books, 2019, 385 pages, $27

On July 16, 1940, Winston Churchill began an effort to “set Europe ablaze,” creating the Special Operations Executive to strike at Nazi Germany from within Occupied Europe — the nations conquered by Germany. One of the agents recruited to infiltrate into France was Odette Sampson, a married mother of three.

“Code Name: Lise, The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy,” by Larry Loftis tells her story.

Sampson was born in France, but had moved to Britain between World War I and II after marrying an Englishman. She wanted to do her bit for Britain after France fell in June 1940, and offered her services. She thought she could be useful as a translator. Instead, as Loftis shows, the SOE saw her as a perfect agent to infiltrate into occupied France. They convinced her to do so, leaving her children with relatives in Britain.

Assigned to the SPINDLE network, she served in Southern France, then run by the German-friendly Vichy government. She was a courier, carrying messages, money, and munitions to other agents. Women could move more freely than men.

She proved competent, gaining the trust and admiration of the network’s leader, Peter Churchill. Danger brought the two together. Their relationship passed from admiration to love, although neither acted on their inclinations while active agents.

In turn, the SPINDLE network was being tracked by Hugo Bleicher, a sergeant in the Geheime Feldpolitzei. He proved outstanding at counterespionage, successfully turning one SPINDLE agent and rolling up the network. He captured Sampson and Churchill as they attempted to escape to Switzerland.

When captured, Sampson claimed she was married to Churchill and that he was related to the British Prime Minister. Both claims were false. The Germans believed it, and ultimately it kept the two from being executed due to their “hostage” value. They also were sheltered and fostered by Bleicher, an oddly humane counterspy.

Loftis follows the story from its origins through the end of the lives of the participants, well after the war’s end. “Code Name: Lise” reads like a thriller and a romance, yet is solid history.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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3 thoughts on “This Week’s Book Review – Code Name: Lise”

  1. Angela’s aunt spoke fluent German and apparently was involved in SOE.  Rudolph Hess took a liking to her when in prison and allegedly demanded to have her present in his early interrogations. Her aunt’s husband (a Polish Jew aka “Sydney Carter”) worked at Bletchley Park. (corrected from “Nick”)

     …… Carter, Sidney Norman aka Norman Chernitsky

    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-personnel-at-bletchley-park-in-world-war-ii

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  2. Jack Sarfatti:
    Angela’s aunt spoke fluent German and apparently was involved in SOE.  Rudolph Hess took a liking to her when in prison and allegedly demanded to have her present in his early interrogations. Her aunt’s husband (a Polish Jew aka “Nick Carter”) worked at Bletchley Park.

    Who is Angela?

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  3.  

    AKA Tina on left of Sinziana – astrophysicist from Bucharest

    PS Tina’s Uncle Ronald Miles RIP a few weeks ago at age 97 but lived to be awarded Chevelier French Legion of Honor 2017. Uncle Ron narrates here

    In the early hours of 19th August 1942, a convoy of Allied ships approached the port of Dieppe carrying more than 6,000 troops. The mainly Canadian force was supposed to carry out a hit and run raid that would help the Allies learn and plan for the real invasion of occupied France later in the war. But almost immediately things started to go wrong.

    Ronald Miles, then aged 20, was a crew member on a landing craft.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02ys32t

    Able Seaman Ronald Miles P/JX 297397

    Joined Royal Navy Fareham 30th September 1941

    Commando Raids The Slipper Raid 3rd May 1942

    Operation Jubilee Dieppe Raid 18th August 1942

    Operation Torch North Africa Landings 8th November 1942

    Operation Husky Sicily landings 10th July 1943

    D-Day Normandy Landings 6th June 1944

    Operation Zipper Port Swettenham 9th September 1945

    Occupation of Bangkok

    Demobbed Rosneath 6th April 1946

    Re-joined Holborn 2nd October 1946

    Demobbed Portsmouth 5th March 1952

    Ships and Bases

    30th Sept 1941 HMS Collingwood Fareham

    HMS Victory Portsmouth Barracks

    HMS Broadway ex-WWI US destroyer

    HMS Northney I Hayling Island ex-Holiday camp; LCAs

    1942 HMS Queen Emma Converted Dutch North Sea ferry; LSI-(M)

    HMS Prince Charles Converted Belgium North Sea ferry; LSI-(M)

    HMS Northney II Hayling Island ex-Holiday camp

    HMS Manatee Isle of Wight

    HMS Glengyle LCAs

    HMS Rosneath River Clyde LCA base

    PSNV Reina de Pacifico Converted ocean going liner; LSI (L)

    – Westcliff on Sea, Essex

    1943 HMS Rosneath River Clyde

    PSNV Reina de Pacifico Converted ocean going liner; LSI (L)

    MV Tegelberg Converted Dutch cargo liner; LSI (L)

    HMS Edinburgh Castle Temporary in the River Clyde

    1944 HMS Quebec Loch Fyne landing craft base

    – Variety Theatre, Southampton

    Petrol Barge 36th Flotilla Normandy

    HMS Northney III Hayling Island ex-Holiday camp

    – Port Sunlight Soap Works, Liverpool

    HMS Dundonald Scottish army camp

    LST382 Passage to Burma

    LST 156 Passage to Ceylon

    HMS High Flyer Trincomalee

    SS Antenor Passage back to UK

    1945 HMS Rosneath River Clyde

    6th April 1945 HMS Victory Portsmouth barracks

    2nd Oct 1946 HMS Victory Portsmouth barracks

    HMS Howe Weymouth; battleship

    1947 HMS Cadiz Fleet destroyer; Home Fleet

    HMS Howe Weymouth; battleship

    1949 HMS King George V Weymouth; battleship

    1950 Bincleaves Portland Bill; experimental torpedo base

    1951 HMS Battleaxe Fleet destroyer; Home Fleet

    1952 Control Tower Portsmouth Dockyard

    5th March 1952 HMS Victory Portsmouth Barracks

     

    HMS Howe 1947

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NXFCDgyanA

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