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Mathilde Carré

Discussion in 'The Secret War: Resistance and Espionage During WW' started by Jim, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Known as The Cat, Mathilde Carré was a divorced French army nurse who was recruited into the INTERALLIÉ resistance organization in 1940. She was cipher clerk and mistress to INTERALLIÉ’s charismatic leader, Roman Garby-Czerniawski (BRUTUS), but she was betrayed to the Germans by another member of the network, Christine Borue. In November 1941, the Paris Abwehr arrested almost the entire membership, including Carré, who agreed to cooperate with her captor, Sgt. Hugo Bleicher. Having reported Garby-Czerniawski’s arrest to London, she declared herself the leader of the new circuit and gave herself the code name VICTOIRE. In the months that followed, four transmitters maintained contact with London, but VICTOIRE confessed her dual role to an early Special Operations Executive parachutist, Pierre de Vomécourt, whose own network had been rolled up by the Germans. Together, in February 1942, they arranged a pickup by boat from the French coast. Once in London, Carré was interrogated about her relationship with the Abwehr. Initially she was allowed her freedom, but in July 1942 she was taken into custody because she was considered unreliable, and the decision was made to prevent her from returning to France with de Vomécourt, which had been their plan. She remained in prison, at Aylesbury and Holloway, until June 1945 when she was deported to Paris, where the French authorities arrested her and charged her with collaboration. She was sentenced to death in January 1949, reprieved and sentenced to hard labour for life, and then released in September 1954. Her autobiography, I Was the Cat, was published in 1959.

    Mathilde Carré, known as "The Cat"

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  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    “The Cat” Was a Triple Agent

    Major roman garby-czerniawski was a dashing figure who had been an Olympic skier for Poland. As a Polish Air Force officer with cryptanalytical training, he escaped to Paris in October 1939 when the German Wehrmacht seized militarily weak Poland. When France fell seven months later, he went undercover and was asked by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Britain’s cloak-and-dagger agency, to organize a Paris-based espionage ring, code-named Interallié (Allied Circle), which grew to 120 agents. Mathilde Carré, an alluring French woman in her mid-thirties who held a law degree, was recruited by Garby-Czerniawski as a radio operator. Carré had no way of knowing it at the time, but she would be the only female triple agent of the war and would work behind the lines of both sides. In the weeks ahead, Carré gathered important intelligence through social contacts with top German officers who were bent on demonstrating their importance to this beautiful and vivacious young woman. She would later state that she received a sexual thrill from danger.

    Interallié’s first radio message to London was broadcast from near theTrocadero on January 1, 1941. Almost daily from that point, Carré radioed her own intelligence tidbits and those gathered by Garby-Czerniawski (code-named Valentin). She introduced her messages with “the Cat reports,” so she was given the code name La Chatte (the Cat). Meanwhile, the German intelligence agency, Abwehr, sent to Paris one of its operatives described as “a human ferret” to dig out the broadcast source and wipe out Interallié. He was Hugo Bleicher, a middle-aged man, who adopted the alias “Colonel Henri” (although he was only a sergeant). Interallié had been so successful that Garby-Czerniawski received Poland’s highest award for valor when he was brought to London in November 1941 for an intelligence planning session. While he was gone, disaster struck in France. Abwehr agents arrested Raoul Kiffer, the Interallié chief in Cherbourg, who betrayed more than twenty of his agents.


    Mathilde “the Cat” Carré, possibly the war’s only female triple agent.​


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    Unaware of the Cherbourg episode, Garby-Czerniawski returned to Paris on the night of November 17. He was sleeping soundly when Hugo Bleicher and a squad of his men burst into his apartment and seized the network leader. Apparently, Kiffer had also disclosed Valentin’s hideout. (Some have said the Cat had betrayed the handsome Garby-Czerniawski in a fit of jealousy over another woman.)

    Later that day, Bleicher arrested the Cat in the Interallié headquarters in the Rue Léandre. She evaded torture and execution by agreeing to become a double agent for Bleicher. The Cat launched her perfidious role by failing to inform London promptly of Valentin’s arrest. After London learned of the disaster, the Cat proposed continuing to broadcast for Interallié under the code name Victorie. Unaware that she had been turned, London quickly approved.

    Predesignated security phrases were embedded in the Cat’s messages to show that the operator was not under enemy control as Bleicher stood next to her. About six weeks after the Cat’s first radio broadcast to London, a member of Interallié who was still on the loose, Pierre de Vomecourt (code-named Lucas), suspected that she was working for the Germans and sending messages to London dictated by the Abwehr. Angrily confronting the woman, Lucas accused her of being in bed with the Germans.

    She vigorously denied the charge, but then she broke down in tears and confessed. Lucas thought about killing her on the spot. Then he had a better idea: turn her into a triple agent. Had the Cat not been involved in the espionage business, she would have been a remarkable actress. She persuaded the Abwehr to allow Lucas to take her to London, where, she promised, she would get details about a meeting of British agents in Paris that Lucas was planning on his return to France. Lucas and his female companion were picked up by a British torpedo boat on a remote beach in Brittany on the night of February 26, 1942. In London, British intelligence officers treated her like a queen. She was put up in a luxury apartment where she spent three happy months unaware that her rooms had been bugged with hidden microphones. One day came the rude awakening. The British had obtained all the information they wanted, and the Cat was hustled from her ornate apartment and thrown, clawing and scratching, into a dingy prison for the remainder of the war.
     

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