Allied war effort

Photo Of The Day

In a photograph taken after the war, deadly special agent Christine Granville smiles for a picture. The former beauty queen - who smiles for the camera with a sideways glance - has good reason to be cheerful. As shown by the military badge pinned above her heart, the war was over and she had no reason to hide, instead posing with perfect poise as she savoured the rewards of her heroism. However, the other images in the collection show the darker side of her work where devastation and death were part of her daily existence. In what could be mistaken for an innocent snapshot of the French countryside, Christine poses next to two wooden struts - all that remained of a bridge blasted to smithereens as part of the Allied liberation of France. Her sweet smile, first as she poses alone, then with a comrade from the French resistance, tells little of the destruction she is celebrating.

In a photograph taken after the war, deadly special agent Christine Granville smiles for a picture. The former beauty queen – who smiles with a sideways glance – has good reason to be cheerful. As shown by the military badge pinned above her heart, the war was over and she had no reason to hide, instead posing with perfect poise as she savoured the rewards of her heroism. ?

‘The Spy Who had Men for Breakfast…

But Few of Them Lasted ’til Dinner’

She was the deadly special agent who charged headlong into occupied territory to fight for her country and the Jewish mother who was killed in a concentration camp.

Christine Granville (real name Krystyna Skarbek) – the favourite spy of Winston Churchill – worked for years for British secret service organisation SOE (aka the?Baker Street Irregulars)?undermining the Nazi regime despite having a short life expectancy in the field.??She became celebrated especially for her daring exploits in intelligence and irregular-warfare missions in Nazi-occupied Poland and France.

Granville, was one of the most successful women agents of the Second World War and said to have been Churchill’s ‘favourite spy’, was murdered, aged 37, in a London Hotel in 1952. Her actions as a British secret agent in Poland, Hungary, and France were legendary even in her lifetime and she repeatedly risked her life to undertake dangerous missions. Her exploits began after the fall of Poland when she became a British agent; organising the escape of British prisoners-of-war, Polish pilots and refugees and returning to Poland, her homeland, to set up escape routes and report on German troop movements. Her capture by the Gestapo led to a dramatic escape from Budapest in the boot of a car followed by travels through Turkey and Syria to Cairo. Christine is an inspiring and unforgettable true hero.

The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocratic and his wealthy Jewish wife, she became one of Britain?s most daring and highly decorated secret agents. Having fled Poland 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 over the hazardous High Tatras into Poland, served in Egypt and North Africa and was later parachuted into Occupied France, where an agent?s life expectancy was only six weeks.

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Photo Of The Day

Basil Zaharoff et la comtesse Marchena [i. e. duchesse de Marchena] : [photographie de presse] / [Agence Rol] - 1922. He met her on the steps of the palace of El Escorial. The fragile girl walked arm in arm with a Spanish grandee, who suddenly attacked her in a fit of rage - and Basil could not stand up for the lady. Grand turned out to be her husband and cousin of the King of Spain. It was a duel, wounded Zaharoff was in the hospital, grateful the lord came to visit him, but to part with him for a long time could not. This is one of the two versions of their acquaintance, told Sir Basil. Newsboys retold a dozen. "Merchant of Death" was capable of feeling a rare strength and durability. Husband of Maria del Pilar, Duchess de Marchena, was insane. Aristocrat, a Catholic, she could not get a divorce. Zaharoff was waiting for her for almost 40 years. They married after the death of the Duke, Zaharoff was 75, the bride - 55. After 17 months she died.

Basil Zaharoff et la comtesse Marchena [i. e. duchesse de Marchena] : [photographie de presse] / [Agence Rol] – 1922.?When he wasn?t busy wheeling and dealing, he dabbled in his own brand of leisure, inviting beautiful women ? preferably redheads ? to join him in his usual compartment on the Orient Express (No. 7) when the train stopped in Vienna.?His usual routine was interrupted one evening in 1886, when he heard screams coming from the compartment next door and went to investigate. It was his first encounter with Maria del Pilar, who told him her husband, the Duke of Marchena, had been trying to strangle her. The man fell headlong in love with the Spanish duchess.?Although social conventions prevented them from marrying until the duke died in 1923, they carried on a torrid love affair, and Zaharoff brought up her three children as his own. Sir Basil never forgot that fateful meeting on the Orient Express, and when he died he left instructions for his ashes to be scattered from the window of compartment No. 7, on the very spot where he had first encountered Maria.

Merchant of Death

?’The Mystery Man of Europe’

Reputedly one of the richest men in the world, Basil Zaharoff was a wealthy and psychotic arms dealer. Zaharoff was known as the “Merchant of Death,” the “Mystery Man of Europe” and eventually “Sir,” due to his being such an evil genius that the British had no choice but to knight him.

Zaharoff had?three rules he would always live by; that the best way to gain influence over a man was through a woman, that one should bet on all sides in a contest, but bet the most on the strongest man, and in politics, one should ?begin on the left?and then work over to the right??.?Zaharoff excelled in bribery, blackmail, with a reputation for having competitors assassinated.

Sinister, mysterious, credited with vast influence, this man who evoked such fierce passions that he was also branded the ?High Priest of War?, a man who had risen from obscure origins in Asia Minor to control a worldwide empire. His trade was arms, anything that fired, floated, submerged and ? later ? flew. His life spanned the muzzle-loading musket and the prototype Spitfire.

Zaharoff started his career of villainy modestly, as an arsonist for the Constantinople firefighters. Yes, you read that correctly. The corrupt Turkish fire department actually hired people to start fires in rich people’s houses so firefighters could go in and steal all their belongings. It was fun as far as evil enterprises go, but Zaharoff had grander aspirations.

He later became a huge-time international arms dealer for Swedish munitions company Thorsten Nordenfelt, but with a twist: Zaharoff figured that the best way to make a living selling weapons was to first create demand by starting a bunch of wars, so that’s exactly what he did.

After selling the world’s first submarine to the Greeks, Zaharoff went running to the Turkish government to tell them what he’d done. Understandably frightened, the Turks bought two submarines of their own. Realizing he had a good thing going, Zaharoff then went to Russia and helpfully informed them that Greece and Turkey were stocking up on submarines, and furthermore, he’d heard them saying that Russians were a bunch of idiots. So Russia bought some subs. The icing on the cake was that much of the product that Zaharoff was shilling was faulty, overpriced garbage. His submarines?fell apart?as soon as they tried to fire a torpedo.

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