8 May 1918 |
|Allegiance||United Kingdom, France|
|Service/branch||Special Operations Executive, French Resistance|
|Years of service||1943-1944|
|Rank||Field agent and guerrilla commander|
|Commands held||SOE F Section networks|
D'Unienville was born in Mauritius, but moved to France at the age of six. Commissioned (rank of Lieutenant) in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, she commenced SOE training at Beaulieu in June 1943. On 31 March 1944 she parachuted into Loir-et-Cher from a Halifax aircraft. Her alias was Aline Bowden and cover story was she was born on the island of Réunion in 1922 and moved to France in 1938 to study and was now the wife of a prisoner of war.
Working in Paris using the codenames Myril and Marie-France, she was successful until her arrest on 6 June 1944 when she was arrested with Tristan outside Bon Marché in Paris. She was taken to Avenue Foch for interrogation and was searched. She was held in Fresnes prison in solitary confinement. She pretended to be "mentally derranged" to escape from Fresnes and to be transferred to Saint-Anne hospital. This plan was foiled by the Gestapo, who transferred her to La Pitié, a place associated with brutal atrocities of the Gestapo.
D'Unienville, by once again eating and talking, was able to get herself transferred briefly to Saint-Anne, and then to the prison camp at Romainville, where she and another women, Annie Herve hatched a plan to escape over the walls using a rope they made out of black curtains. The attempt was abandoned when Herve was deported to Germany.
D'Unienville was in the last convoy to be sent from Romainville towards Germany, but she was able to escape when the prisoners were sent across a road bridge over the Marne because the rail bridge had been destroyed by Allied bombing. She was then able to hide in two villages before being liberated by the Americans, whereupon she was able to return to Paris.
After the war d'Unienville worked as an air hostess for Air France and became a writer of fiction and nonfiction.
Binney, Marcus (2002) 'The Women who Lived for Danger: The Women Agents of SOE in the Second World War'
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