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Jack Agazarian

From Academic Kids

Jack Charles Stanmore Agazarian (1916March 29, 1945) was a British espionage agent who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) inside France. He was captured and killed by the Nazis when he sought to confirm the status of a resistance cell that the Nazis had compromised.

Agazarian was born in London, to an Armenian father and French mother. He was educated in both France and England. After joining the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of World War II, he was recruited as a wireless operator by the SOE.

In December 1942 Agazarian arrived in Paris to join the newly formed Prosper network of the SOE and was joined later by his wife Francine. He occasionally worked for Henri Dericourt, a former French Air Force pilot whose job was to find landing grounds and arrange receptions for SOE agents arriving by air. At this time he began to question Dericourt's loyalty and reported to London his own and other agents' suspicions.

Agazarian became known to the Gestapo, and on several occasions he narrowly escaped arrest.

SOE Circuit leader Francis Suttill considered Agazarian's continued presence to be a security risk. On June 16, 1943 Agazarian was returned to England where he reiterated his concerns about Dericourt's loyalty to Nicholas Bodington and Maurice Buckmaster, who were nevertheless unconvinced. However, when agent Noor Inyat Khan lost contact with the Prosper group, headquarters became increasingly concerned. Leo Marks, the SOE's head of codes and ciphers, became convinced that Gilbert Norman, the group's wireless operator, was transmitting under German control.

Agazarian joined Bodington (who was still sceptical) in a mission to France to determine the status of the Prosper network, departing July 22, 1943. Bodington, working through headquarters, arranged a meeting with Gilbert Norman at a pre-arranged address in the rue de Rome near Gare St-Lazare, but it was Agazarian, not Bodington who went to the meeting.

The concerns about the Prosper network proved well-founded. German forces had indeed compromised the network, and Agazarian was taken prisoner at the meeting. Three members of the network, courier Andrée Borrel, leader Francis Suttill and wireless operator Gilbert Norman, had been in custody since June 23, and Norman's transmissions had indeed been made by the Germans. Henri Dericourt's role in the loss of the Prosper network remains unclear; after the war he was tried as a double agent, but acquitted for lack of evidence.

The arrest of Agazarian, who knew a great deal about the Prosper network, was a massive coup for the Germans. He endured torture for six months at Fresnes prison and was then moved to Flossenbürg concentration camp. After being kept there in solitary confinement, Agazarian was executed on March 29, 1945.

Jack Agazarian is honored on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey, England and also on the Roll of Honor on the Valençay SOE Memorial in Valençay, in the Indre departément of France.

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