Mary Lindell (her full name was Gertrude Mary Lindell) was born on 11th September, 1895 to a wealthy family in Surrey. She had an impeccable upbringing and was extremely courageous and resourceful. During the first world war Mary served as a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) and later with the Secours aux Blesses, a division of the French Red Cross. When the war was over she married the Count de Milleville, a French aristocrat, and settled in Paris where she stayed for the rest of her life.
During the second world war she started to help army evaders by transporting them to the unoccupied zone of southern France. Later, Mary Lindell also helped aircrew escape capture and return to England. Her children Maurice, Oky and Barbe helped helped her with the work. Her son Maurice was interrogated and beaten by the Germans but was released after Mary paid a bribe to the Gestapo. Mary also set up an organised escape line which covered a large area. Following her arrest for anti-German activities and spending nine months in solitary confinement, she spent a brief period in Lyon and then managed to escape to England by disguising herself as an elderly French governess and folloing her own escape route to Marseille.
When Mary Lindell arrived back in London in 1942 she joined up with MI9 and after a very brief period of training was sent back to France to continue aiding evaders. Here, she set up the Marie-Claire line which helped many escapers including famous evaders such as Major Hasler and Marine Sparkes, the only two survivors of Operation Frankton. However, she was caught again in November 1943 and a year later she was deported from occuppied France to Ravensbruck concentration camp as a British prisoner of war. Whilst there she managed to get a job in the camp hospital where she could gather intelligence as well as smuggle food to other inmates. Mary Lindell survived the concentration camp and on 25 April 1945 she was handed over to the Swedish Red Cross and was finally free.
Mary Lindell returned to France and died in 1986 aged 92.
Copyright, license and article source information.
Reproduced and/or adapted for educational purposes.