In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in South Kensington. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising, but that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable.
The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, she would become one of Britain’s most daring and highly decorated special agents. Having fled to Britain on the outbreak of war, she was recruited by the intelligence services long before the establishment of the SOE, and took on mission after mission. She skied into occupied Poland, served in Egypt and was later parachuted into occupied France. Her quick wit, courage and determination won her release from arrest more than once, and saved the lives of several fellow officers, including one of her many lovers just hours before he was due to be executed by the Gestapo. More importantly, perhaps, the intelligence she smuggled to the British hidden inside her gloves was a significant contribution to the Allied war effort and in recognition of her success she was awarded the George Medal, the OBE and the Croix de Guerre. Charismatic, difficult and fearless, Christine was an extraordinary woman, and exercised a mesmeric power of those who knew her.