Cormeau, Yvonne Beatrice (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 7369
Department
Sound
Production date
1984-02-09
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 130, Number Of Items 5
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

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Object description

British officer served with Women's Auxiliary Air Force as wireless operator with F Section, Special Operations Executive in GB and France 1943-1944 [agent 'Annette']

Content description

REEL 1 Background and education in China, France and GB, 1909-1939: languages spoken; employment as barrister's secretary; death of husband on home leave from RAF during air raid on London, 1940; reactions to outbreak of Second World War; joining Women's Auxiliary Air Force; background to recruitment to Special Operations Executive, 1943. Recollections of period with Special Operations Executive in GB, 1943-1944: recruitment interview with Selwyn Jepson; selection as wireless operator; personal temperament; aspects of training at Wanborough Manor including coding and decoding, jamming, radio repairs, extra lessons in atmospherics; codes including Playfair; story of hiding weapon in French countryside; question of advice on living and operating in France during training; false identity; importance of low grade paper for identity card; cover stories as nanny, district nurse and cow hand. REEL 2 Continues: story of being sacked as cow hand. Recollections of period as with Wheelwright Circuit with F Section, Special Operations Executive in France, 1943-1944: drop into St. Antoine, Gironde, 22/8/1943; clothing for parachute drop; reception committee; hiding jump suit, meeting with boss of Wheelwright circuit, George Reginald Starr, codenamed 'Hilaire'; Hilaire's request for radio operator; opinion of Hilaire; hiding radio set in grape barrel; messages transmitted to England; dropping zones; unsuccessful drops of radio sets; capture of reception committee member; question of personal security; primitive conditions; reaction to lifestyle; attitudes of French civilians. REEL 3 Continues: opinion of reasons for civilian collaboration; attitudes among resistance movement; receiving additional members to circuit, 1944; role of couriers; opinion of calibre of German forces in Gironde and Pyrenees areas; question of Gestapo presence; local Gestapo headquarters at Mont Rejeau and Auch; fear of French collaborators, 'milice'; betrayal of reception committee and circuit by agent Rodolphe; view of 'Wanted!' posters for herself and Hilaire at St.Antoine, 9/1943; splitting up from Hilaire; lying low; period finding suitable operation and reception fields; receiving messages from BBC; use of Greenwich Mean Time; weather conditions; civilian morale, effects of German propaganda, winter 1944/1945; effects on morale of BBC output; sabotage plans in preparation for D Day; aspects of operations including involvement in pre-D-Day disinformation and deception; reactions to collaborators by French civilians after D-Day; increase in operations after spring 1944. REEL 4 Continues: preparation of reception fields; actions of reception committees; receiving confirmation of Normandy invasion; concealing weapons beneath beehives; cleaning and preparing weapons; intensification of activities nearing D-Day; move to safer transmission site; formation and fighting of resistance battalion; collecting other Special Operations Executive members approaching Toulouse; transmitting from barracks in Toulouse; Hilaire's reaction to orders from General de Gaulle to leave Toulouse; searching with Hilaire for civilians in need of aid, 25/9/1944; story of being stopped and questioned by German soldiers, 6/1944. REEL 5 Continues: question of use of term, maquis; question of personal attitudes towards risk of capture, torture, taking suicide pill.

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