Tri-Service

WW2 Heroine's Medals To Remain In Public Eye

Bravery medals belonging to a Second World War heroine will go on display at the Imperial War Museum after fetching a record price at...

Bravery medals belonging to a Second World War heroine will go on display at the Imperial War Museum after fetching a record price at auction.
 
The George Cross and four other medals belonged to Violette Szabo, who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in occupied France, and was tortured and murdered by the Nazis at the end of the War.
 
They were sold by her daughter, Tania Szabo, 73, who has no offspring to hand them on to.
 
 
The sale sparked calls for the medals belonging to the Anglo-French undercover agent, who was executed in 1945 at a concentration camp, aged just 23, to be bought for the nation.
 
And those calls are set to be fulfilled, after the lot was bought by Lord Ashcroft for £260,000. They'll now go on display in the Imperial War Museum.
 
Rosemary Rigby, of the Violette Szabo museum in Herefordshire, said before the auction:
 
"She fought for us and she died for us and I would like for the medals to stay here. I would like for the hammer to drop on behalf of the country, and someone buy them in her name."
 
"That would be the greatest compliment."
 
Mrs Szabo was born in Paris in 1921 but her family moved to Stockwell, London. She married a French Foreign Legionnaire, Etienne Szabo, who was killed at El Alamein in North Africa before their daughter Tania was born.
 
His death encouraged Violette to join the SOE which carried out espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe during the war.
 
Two days after the D-Day landings, Violette was captured by the SS after running into a road block near Limoges in France. She endured months of torture and was shot dead at Ravensbruck concentration camp in January or February 1945.
 
In December 1946, she was posthumously awarded the George Cross - second only to the Victoria Cross in the honours system. Tania, then aged four, collected it at a private investiture by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.
 
The lot contained the George Cross, a French Croix de Guerre and three other campaign medals, plus a parachute bag, documents and photographs, some previously unseen.