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Female Spies in World War I and World War II

Women Undercover in World War II - Continued


Amy Elizabeth Thorpe

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, whose code name was "Cynthia" and who later used the name Betty Pack, worked for the OSS in Vichy France. She was sometimes used as a "swallow" who would seduce the enemy to get secret information, and also participated in break-ins. One daring raid involved taking secret naval codes from a locked and guarded room and from a safe within this. She also infiltrated the Vichy French Embassy in Washington DC and took important code books.

Maria Gulovich

Maria Gulovich fled Czechoslovakia when it was invaded and went to Hungary. Working with Czech army staff, and British and American intelligence teams, they assisted downed pilots, refugees and resistance members. She was taken by the KGB and maintained her OSS cover under fierce interrogation while assisting in the Slovak rebellion and rescue efforts for Allied pilots and crews.

Julia McWilliams Child

Julia Child was up to much more than gourmet cooking. She had wanted to join the WACs or the WAVES but was turned down for being too tall at her height of 6'2". She worked out of the OSS Headquarters in Washington, DC and was in research and development. One of her projects was a workable shark repellent used for downed flight crews and later used for US space missions with water landings. She also supervised an OSS facility in China. She handled countless top secret documents before gaining television fame as The French Chef.

Marlene Dietrich

German born Marlene Dietrich became an American citizen in 1939. She was a volunteer for the OSS and served both by entertaining troops on the front lines and by broadcasting nostalgic songs as propaganda to German troops who were battle weary. She received the Medal of Freedom for her work.

Elizabeth P. McIntosh

Elizabeth P. McIntosh was a war correspondent and independent journalist who joined the OSS shortly after Pearl Harbor. She would intercept and rewrite postcards Japanese troops wrote home while stationed in India. She also detected a copy of the Imperial Order discussing terms of surrender which was then disseminated to Japanese troops, as were intercepted orders of other sorts.

Genevieve Feinstein

Not every woman in intelligence was a spy as we think of them. Women also played a significant role as cryptanalysts and code breakers. Codes were handled by the SIS or Signal Intelligence Service. Genevieve Feinstein was such a woman and she was responsible for creating a machine used to decode Japanese messages. After WWII, she continued to work in intelligence.

Mary Louise Prather

Mary Louise Prather headed the SIS stenographic section and was responsible for logging messages in code and preparing decoded messages for distribution. She uncovered a correlation between two Japanese messages that permitted the decryption of an important new Japanese code system.

Juliana Mickwitz

Juliana Mickwitz escaped Poland when the Nazi invasion of 1939 happened. She became a translator of Polish, German and Russian documents and worked with the Military Intelligence Directorate of the War Department. Later, she was used to translate voice messages.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was a famous singer and dancer called the Creole Goddess, the Black Pearl and the Black Venus for her beauty, but she was also a spy. She worked for the French Resistance undercover and smuggled military secrets into Portugal from France hidden in invisible ink on her sheet music.

Hedy Lamarr

Actress Hedy Lamarr made a valuable contribution to the intelligence division by co-producing an anti-jamming device for torpedoes. She also devised a clever way of "frequency hopping" that prevented the interception of American military messages. Famous for the "Road" movies with Bob Hope, everyone knew she was an actress but few were aware she was an inventor of military importance.

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake

New Zealand-born Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC GM was the most decorated service woman among Allied troops in WWII. She grew up in Australia and worked as a nurse and then as a journalist. As a journalist she watched the rise of Hitler and was well aware of the dimension of the threat Germany posed. When the war began she was living in France with her husband and became a courier for the French Resistance. The Gestapo called her the "White Mouse" and she became their most wanted spy. She was in constant danger with her mail read and her phone tapped and eventually had a price of 5 million francs on her head.

When her network was uncovered she fled and was briefly arrested but released and, after six attempts, went to England and there joined the SOE. She was forced to leave her husband behind and the Gestapo tortured him to death trying to learn her location. In 1944 she parachuted back into France to assist the Maquis and was participant in training highly effective Resistance troops. She once bicycled 100 miles through German checkpoints to replace a lost code and was reputed to have killed a German soldier with her bare hands to save others.

After the war she was awarded the Croix de Guerre three times, the George Medal, the Médaille de la Résistance, and the American Medal of Freedom for her undercover achievements.

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