Krystyna Skarbek bigraphy, stories - Polish spy

Krystyna Skarbek : biography

1 May 1908 - 15 June 1952

Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek,Clare Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, 2012, p. 1. GM, OBE, Croix de guerre ( 1 May 1908"Perhaps appropriately for a secret agent, the deceptions and confusions that surround Christine's life start with her birth.... In fact [she] arrived in the world on Friday 1 May 1908." Clare Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, 2012, p. 1.In January 1941, when Britain's ambassador to Budapest, Sir Owen O'Malley, produced passports in false names for Skarbek and her partner Andrzej Kowerski, the two Poles chose the names "Christine Granville" and "Andrew Kennedy". Skarbek "took the opportunity to knock seven years off her age. From then on [she] would always give 1915 as her birth year." Clare Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, 2012, pp. 100-101.Jan Larecki, Krystyna Skarbek: agentka o wielu twarzach (Krystyna Skarbek: Agent with Many Faces), 2008, pp. 31, 123. - 15 June 1952) was a Polish Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent. She became celebrated especially for her daring exploits in intelligence and irregular-warfare missions in Nazi-occupied Poland and France.

She became a British agent months before the SOE was founded in July 1940 and was one of the longest-serving of all Britain's wartime women agents. Her resourcefulness and success have been credited with influencing the organization's policy of recruiting increasing numbers of women.Marcus Binney, The Women Who Lived for Danger, pp. 4–5.

In 1941, she began using the nom de guerre Christine Granville, which she legally adopted on naturalisation as a British citizen in December 1946.Clare Mulley, The Spy Who Loved, pp. 3, 287, 333.

Journalist Donald McCormick has claimed that Skarbek had a postwar affair with Ian Fleming, and that she was an inspiration for Fleming's characters Tatiana Romanova and Vesper Lynd. One Skarbek biographer, Clare Mulley, notes that Fleming "never claimed to have met her, even in passing.... [T]he only known source for the much-quoted story of Christine's affair with Fleming is McCormick, who claims to have seen [a] letter from Fleming praising Christine, and his supporting witness, an Olga Bialoguski (sic), who testified to McCormick that she was the sole person Christine confided in, and who is... untraceable. McCormick had already written a history of the British Secret Service, and a 'Spyclopaedia', both of which mention Christine without reference to Fleming. It seems that the opportunity to bring them together finally proved irresistible."


Skarbek's service in France restored her political reputation and greatly enhanced her military reputation. When the SOE teams returned from France (or in some cases, were given 24 hours to depart by de Gaulle), some of the British women sought new missions in the Pacific War, since the Empire of Japan still held on; but Skarbek, as a Pole, was ideally placed to serve as a courier for missions to her homeland in the final missions of SOE. As the Red Army advanced across Poland, the British government and Polish government-in-exile worked together to leave a network in place that would report on events in the People's Republic of Poland. Kowerski and Skarbek were now fully reconciled with the Polish forces and were preparing to be dropped into Poland in early 1945. In the event, the mission, called Operation Freston, was canceled because the first party to enter Poland were captured by the Red Army (they were released in February 1945).

The women of SOE were all given military rank, with honorary commissions in either the Women's Transport Service (FANY), officially part of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) though a very elite and autonomous part, or the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). Skarbek appears to have been a member of both.

In preparation for her service in France, she appears to have been with FANY. On her return, she seems to have transferred to the WAAF as an officer until the end of the war in Europe: 21 November 1944 to 14 May 1945.

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