Jack Agazarian : biography
Jack Charles Stanmore Agazarian (27 August 1915 – 29 March 1945) was a British espionage agent who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) inside France. He was captured and killed by the Nazis when he sought to confirm the status of a resistance cell that the Nazis had compromised.
Agazarian was born in London, to an Armenian father, Berdge Rupen Agazarian, and French mother, Jacqueline Marie-Louise Le Chevalier Agazarian, the second of six children. He was educated in both France and England at Dulwich College. After completing his education he worked with his father in the family business.
After joining the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of World War II, he was recruited as a wireless operator by the SOE. His younger brother, Noel Agazarian, also joined the Royal Air Force but as a Spitfire pilot; he went on to be a flying ace in the Battle of Britain before being killed in action on 16 May 1941.
In December 1942 Agazarian arrived in Paris to join the newly formed Prosper network of the SOE and was joined later by his wife Francine. He occasionally worked for Henri Dericourt, a former French Air Force pilot whose job was to find landing grounds and arrange receptions for SOE agents arriving by air. At this time he began to question Dericourt’s loyalty and reported to London his own and other agents’ suspicions.
Agazarian became known to the Gestapo, and on several occasions he narrowly escaped arrest.
SOE Circuit leader Francis Suttill considered Agazarian’s continued presence to be a security risk. On 16 June 1943 Agazarian was returned to England where he reiterated his concerns about Dericourt’s loyalty to Nicholas Bodington and Maurice Buckmaster, who were nevertheless unconvinced. However, when agent Noor Inyat Khan lost contact with the Prosper group, headquarters became increasingly concerned. Leo Marks, the SOE’s head of codes and ciphers, became convinced that Gilbert Norman, the group’s wireless operator, was transmitting under German control.
Agazarian joined Bodington (who was still sceptical) in a mission to France to determine the status of the Prosper network, departing 22 July 1943. Bodington, working through headquarters, arranged a meeting with Gilbert Norman at a pre-arranged address in the rue de Rome near Gare St-Lazare, but it was Agazarian, not Bodington who went to the meeting.
The concerns about the Prosper network proved well-founded. German forces had indeed compromised the network, and Agazarian was taken prisoner at the meeting. Three members of the network, courier Andrée Borrel, leader Francis Suttill and wireless operator Gilbert Norman, had been in custody since 23 June, and Norman’s transmissions had indeed been made by the Germans. Henri Dericourt’s role in the loss of the Prosper network remains unclear; after the war he was tried as a double agent, but acquitted for lack of evidence. In fact he was a triple agent working for Secret Intelligence Service and that the SOE agents had been sacrificed to distract German attentions from landings in Sicily and Normandy.
The arrest of Agazarian, who knew a great deal about the Prosper network, was a massive coup for the Germans. He endured torture for six months at Fresnes prison and was then moved to Flossenbürg concentration camp. After being kept there in solitary confinement, Agazarian was executed on 29 March 1945.
Jack Agazarian is honored on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey, England, on the SOE memorial at Flossenbürg and also on the Roll of Honor on the Valençay SOE Memorial in Valençay, in the Indre département of France
Category:1916 births Category:1945 deaths Category:Royal Air Force personnel of World War II Category:Special Operations Executive personnel Category:Flossenbürg concentration camp victims Category:Executed spies Category:British people of Armenian descent Category:British military personnel killed in World War II Category:English people of French descent Category:British people executed in Nazi concentration camps Category:Executed people from London