Krystyna Skarbek

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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