BREAKING Mer

Remembering a fearless Lady of the SOE

Given the code name “Marguerite”, Lise de Baissac and Andrée Borrel, became the first female agents to be parachuted into France on September 24,1942.
 
They landed in the village of Boisrenard close to the town of Mer. After staying with the French Resistance for a couple of days Lise moved to Poiters, and over the next few months Lise acted as liaison officer between the Prosper, Scientist and Bricklayer networks.
 
As she did not have a wireless, she had to travel to Paris to send and receive messages and collect funds, or to Bordeaux where her brother, Claude de Baissac, was building up the large circuit, organizing sabotage and providing reports on submarines and shipping.
 
In June 1943, the Germans arrested several agents involved with the Prosper network including Andrée Borrel, Francis Suttill and Gilbert Norman, but Baissac managed to escape back to England. Lise was dropped back into France in April 1944, to work with the Pimento Circuit run by the SOE agent Anthony Brooks.
A British army officer later claimed: “The part she played in aiding the Maquis and the British underground movement in France cannot be too highly stressed and did much to facilitate the Maquis preparations and resistance prior to the American breakthrough in Mayenne.”
Lise was awarded the MBE in September 1945. After the war she married Henri Villameur, an artist and interior decorator living in Marseilles. Lise passed in 2004 at the age of 98.