Anne-Marie Walters

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Anne-Marie Walters
Nickname(s) Colette
Born (1923-03-16)16 March 1923
Geneva, Switzerland
Died 3 October 1998(1998-10-03) (aged 75)
Allegiance United Kingdom, France
Service/branch Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Special Operations Executive, French Resistance
Years of service 1941-1944
Rank Section Officer, Field agent (courier)
Unit SOE F Section, Réseau Wheelwright
Awards MBE, Croix de Guerre, Médaille de la Reconnaissance Français
Other work Author, Editor and Translator

Anne-Marie Walters MBE (16 March 1923 – 3 October 1998) was a WAAF officer recruited into the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. Her code name was Colette.

Walters was born in Geneva of an English father, F.P. Walters, who had been Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations, and a French mother. The family left Switzerland for England after the outbreak of the war and Walters initially joined the WAAF in 1941 (Service Number 2001920[1]). On 6 July 1943 she was recruited into SOE and during the summer and autumn of that year underwent training as an agent at the SOE Special Training School 23 at Loch Morar, Scotland.[2]

The first attempt to parachute her into France in December 1943 failed because of bad weather over the dropping zone and ended with a crash-landing back in England (at a diversionary airfield because of widespread fog).[3] There is a dramatic account of this incident in the first chapter of her book.[4]

In the company of a fellow agent, Claude Arnault (Néron), she was successfully dropped into the Armagnac area in SW France on the night of 3/4 January 1944, to join George Starr’s WHEELWRIGHT circuit.[5] Walters acted as a courier for Starr until after D-Day. She worked alongside Yvonne Cormeau (Starr's Wireless Operator).

On her return to Britain in August 1944 she attempted to return to France on active service, if not with SOE then with the Free French Forces. In this she was unsuccessful. Having been promoted to the rank of Section Officer in May 1944 while she was in the field, Walters resigned her commission in November 1944 and left SOE at the same time. She was subsequently awarded the MBE (Civil list) for her work in occupied France[3] and, from France, the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Reconnaissance française.[6]

Later she published an account of her experiences in Moondrop to Gascony (Macmillan, 1946; Moho Books, 2009). The book provides a vivid portrait of Starr (Le Patron in the book) and also of Arnault (Jean-Claude in the book) with whom Walters was romantically involved.[7] Moondrop to Gascony won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1947.

After the war she lived in Spain and France and was known as a translator and editor under her married name Anne-Marie Comert. She died in France in 1998 at the age of 75.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Squadron Leader Beryl E. Escott, Mission Improbable: A salute to the RAF women of SOE in wartime France, London, Patrick Stevens Limited, 1991. ISBN 1-85260-289-9
  2. ^ National Archives, Kew, HS 9/339/2 (filed under her married name of Anne-Marie Comert)
  3. ^ a b National Archives, Kew, HS 9/339/2
  4. ^ Walters, Anne-Marie, Moondrop to Gascony (Macmillan 1946)
  5. ^ Foot M.R.D., SOE in France, (Routledge 2004), 332.
  6. ^ Le Batallion de Guerilla de l'Armagnac (Amicale du Bataillon de l'Armagnac et A.I.T.I. sarl, 2002), 77
  7. ^ Walters, Anne-Marie, Moondrop to Gascony (Macmillan 1946; Moho Books, 2009), passim