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Vera Leigh

From Academic Kids

Vera Leigh was born Vera Glass on March 17, 1903 in Leeds, England.

Abandoned by her parents soon after birth, she was adopted by Eugene Leigh, an American racehorse trainer who owned stables at Maisons Laffitte, near Paris in France.

She had an early ambition to become a jockey, but after completing her education she worked as a dress designer. In 1927 she went into partnership with two friends to establish a 'grand maison' (fashion house) known as Rose Valoie in the Place Vendôme, Paris.

After the fall of Paris in the Second World War she left for Lyon to join her fiancé, and became involved in the French Resistance, helping to run an escape line for allied servicemen trapped behind enemy lines.

In 1942 she used the same escape route to cross the Pyrenees to Spain in the hope of reaching England, but found herself interned for several months at the Miranda de Ilbro internment camp near Bilbao.

Eventually, with assistance from a British Embassy official, she was released from internment and completed the journey to England via Gibraltar.

After offering her services for the war effort, she came to the attention of the Special Operations Executive, who recruited her for F Section, and she became an Ensign in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

Despatched on her first and only mission, she returned to France and on May 13, 1943 she arrived at a field in the Cher Valley, near Tours. She was one of four new arrivals that night who were received by F Section's air movements officer Henri Dericourt. Her companions were Julienne Aisner, Sidney Jones and Marcel Clech. Aisner was to be a courier for Dericourt's Farrier circuit, while Jones (an arms instructor) and Clech (a wireless operator) were to join Leigh in the establishment of a new sub-circuit known as 'Inventor', which was to work alongside the Prosper network.

After receiving further instructions at a safe-house in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Leigh took an apartment in Paris, and carried messages from Jones in and out of the city as far as the Ardennes.

One day in the Gare Saint-Lazare she met by chance her sister's husband, who ran a safe house for allied airmen as part of an escape line. She increased the risk to herself by becoming involved, escorting some of these men through the Parisian streets to their next contacts. She also socialised openly with other agents, including Julienne Aisner.

On October 30, she was arrested at a café near the Place des Ternes and taken to Fresnes prison. The Germans already knew everything about her activities.

On May 13 1944 Leigh was taken from Fresnes prison to 84 Avenue Foch, the Paris headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst. Others taken there at the same included Andrée Borrel, Odette Sansom, Diana Rowden, Yolande Beekman, Eliane Plewman, Sonya Olschanezky and Madeleine Damerment.

On 6th July 1944, Vera along with Diana Rowden, Andrée Borrel and Sonya Olschanezky, were taken to the Concentration Camp at Natzweiler. Later that day they were injected with phenol and put in the crematorium furnace

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