Mathilde Carré

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Mathilde Carré (30 June 1908 – 1970), known as "La Chatte", was a French Resistance agent during World War II who turned double agent.

Mathilde Carré was born in Le Creusot, Saône-et-Loire. In the 1930s she attended Sorbonne University and became a teacher. After her marriage, she moved to Algeria with her husband Maurice Carré, who was later killed in World War II, during the campaign of Italy.

She returned to France, worked as a nurse and witnessed the country fall to the Germans. In 1940, she met a Polish Air Force Captain named Roman Czerniawski cryptonymed "Walenty" to the Poles and "Armand" or "Victor" to the French. Carré, who had contacts with the Vichy Second Bureau, joined the headquarters section of his Franco-Polish Interallié espionage network based in Paris under the cryptonym "Victoire" (as all the headquarters section staff had "V" initial names, in a network which named its agents and their sectors or areas of coverage for Christian names grouped by the letters of the alphabet) although nicknamed La Chatte, ("The She-cat") for her feline predatory and stealthy propensities.

On 17 November 1941, the Abwehr's Hugo Bleicher arrested Czerniawski, Carré and many other members of Interallié; they had been uncovered when an informant in Normandy had been exposed to the Gestapo. She was interrogated by him, threatened with death and also offered financial reward, she agreed to become a double agent herself and revealed all of the members of the network known to her. She began to work for Germans continuing to use the code name Victoire. She may also have become Bleicher's mistress.

According to Pierre de Vomécourt, an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), he and a Resistance contact began to suspect her. When he confronted Carré, who had become his mistress, she confessed and together they planned to outwit the Abwehr.

She claimed she convinced Bleicher, and through him, his superiors, to send her to London to infiltrate the SOE. In February 1942, she was exfiltrated to London with de Vomécourt. MI5 interrogated her about Abwehr techniques and played back her radio link for a period until her usefulness was exhausted, whereupon she was arrested and taken first to HM Prison Holloway and then to HM Prison Aylesbury for the rest of the war, where she acted as an informant against other detainees.

After the war Carré was deported to France where she faced charges for treason. At the trial, which started on 3 January 1949, the prosecution read from her diary: "What I wanted most was a good meal, a man, and, once more, Mozart's Requiem."[1] Despite being defended by her wartime commander, Paul Archard, she was sentenced to death on 7 January 1949. Three months later, the sentence was commuted to 20 years in jail.

Mathilde Carré was released in September 1954. She published an account of her life in J'ai été "La Chatte" (1959; revised in 1975 as On m'appelait la Chatte ("I Was Called The Cat")), in which she denied many claims that had been made about her and her activities during the war. She soon fell out of public view. In 1980 her book Ainsi vécut Marie, jeune-fille de Nazareth, mère du Christ was published.[2] Mathilde Carré died in 1970 in Paris.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Time: La Chatte
  2. ^ Mathilde Bélard Carré: Ainsi vécut Marie, jeune-fille de Nazareth, mère du Christ, with a preamble from 1976 by Père Michel Riquet, S.J., Limoges, Droguet et Ardant, ca 1980
  3. ^ Macintyre (2012), p. 341

Bibliography[edit]

  • Macintyre, Ben (2012). Double Cross: The True Story of The D-Day Spies. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1408819902. 

Further reading[edit]