London, Sept.14 (ANI): To many, 89-year-old Eileen Nearne was simply a quiet and unassuming lady, and few knew that she was a British spy who had plotted behind enemy lines during much of the Second World War.
When she died on Septemeber 2 at her small seaside flat in Torquay, she was alone and a social recluse.
According to the Independent, neighbours and council officials were stunned when they found out Nearne's true identity.
etails of Nearne's history were discovered among her possessions at her flat. It included French currency, correspondence written in French, and medals.
Nearne was a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She was one of the few female agents who risked their lives in occupied France during the Second World War to work with the resistance.
Despite her wealth of accomplishments, Nearne's funeral may not have family members or friends to mourn her.
The Torbay Council, which has had to arrange the funeral, is now hoping that the publicity will drive those who knew her to attend.
Nearne was one of just 39 female agents sent to France by the SOE, and one of a handful to be captured by the Germans.
Steven Cook said: "I have known her for about six years and she was very reclusive. We thought she may have been in the French Resistance from rumours but I was very surprised at the extent of her heroism.
Nearne was the youngest of three children with a Spanish mother and English father who all became agents. Their parents had moved to France in 1923 but made their way back to England at the outbreak of war.
Nearne and her older sister, Jacqueline, joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, operating barrage balloons. Their fluent French soon caught the eye of SOE recruiters and they were trained in the dark arts of secret warfare at a remote castle in Scotland.
Nearne honed her skills as a radio operator at listening stations in England, keeping contact with agents in occupied Europe.
In March 1944, she was flown to a field near Les Lagnys, in central France, where she joined the Wizard network as a radio operator.
She assumed the name Mademoiselle du Tort. Four months after her arrival, and two months after the D-Day landings, she was captured by the Gestapo but persuaded them that she was an innocent French woman arrested by mistake.
After the war, Nearne was awarded the MBE and lived in London with her sister.
She moved to Torquay after her sister's death. Neither sister married.
Nearne's funeral service is due be held at Drakes Chapel, in Torquay on September 21. (ANI)