Cormeau, Yvonne Beatrice (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 7369
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 130, Number Of Items 5
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


Purchase & License
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

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.

Associated people and organisations
Associated places
Associated events
Associated themes
Associated keywords

IWM Non Commercial Licence

The media for this item are free to reuse for non-commercial purposes under the IWM Non Commercial Licence. Video, sound and images can be embedded with the code we offer here, and images can also be downloaded.

By downloading any images or embedding any media, you agree to the terms and conditions of the IWM Non Commercial Licence, including your use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM

  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML