Nicholas Bodington

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Nicholas Redner Bodington OBE (6 June 1904 – 3 July 1974, Plymouth) was, during the Second World War, a head of F section of the Special Operations Executive. He took part in 4 missions to France.

Life[edit]

Pre-war[edit]

The son of Oliver Bodington, he studied at Cheltenham College and (for a year) at Lincoln College, Oxford and became a journalist, working from 1930 onwards for the Daily Express. Prior to the war, he was Reuters's press correspondent in Paris. There he mixed with Karl Bömelburg, future head of the Gestapo in France and Henri Déricourt, future triple agent. He also worked for MI6 for a time.

During the war[edit]

In 1940 he joined F section as its second in command, assisting Leslie Humphreys then (from December) H.R. Marriott. At the start of 1941, he recruited Virginia Hall and at the start of summer that year Maurice Buckmaster became Section F's head. At the start of 1942 Bodington participated in the landing by boat in Brittany which picked up Pierre de Vomécourt, codename Lucas, head of the AUTOGIRO network, and Mathilde Carré, codename Victoire, the famous spy nicknamed La Chatte.

1942 mission[edit]

On the night of 29/30 July 1942, he was sent to France to evaluate the value to F Section of collaborating with André Girard's CARTE network. Landing from the sailing ship Seadog at Golfe-Juan, shortly afterwards he made contact with Girard and Henri Frager at Cannes. He wished to meet with the head of the Armée d'armistice. André Girard put him in contact with colonel Vautrin, formerly head of Paul Reynaud's cabinet, and asked for large quantities of arms, which Bodington promised to supply. On this occasion, he also went to Lyon to try to undo the chaos that was then reigning there. On the night of 31 August, Bodington re-embarked on Seadog[1] and sailed for Gibraltar, arriving on 9 September. Returning to England, his enthusiastic report on CARTE (delivered on 12 September) would form the foundation for the use of CARTE's file as the basis for recruitment for the Prosper - PHYSICIAN network by its heads Francis Suttill (Prosper) and Andrée Borrel (Denise) on their arrival in France.

1943 mission to France[edit]

In 1943 Bodington supported the candidacy of Henri Déricourt, who was engaged by F section and sent to France in February that year, codenamed Gilbert, to organise aerial rendezvous for F Section. Bodington himself was parachuted in from a Hudson on the night of 22/23 July 1943 to clarify the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Prosper network in June and the role of Henri Déricourt (Gilbert), strongly suspected of betraying several agents. Jack Agazarian (Marcel, arrested later in this mission), Cdt Adelin and the Belgian Marissael accompanied him [Source : Verity]. Oddly, it was Déricourt who welcomed them when they landed, in the field Achille 1 km to the southeast of Soucelles. Having escaped the Germans, exonerated Déricourt (though he was dismissed from SOE) and tried to convince Noor Inayat Khan to return to England (she refused), Bodington returned on the night of 16/17 August by Lysander, along with Lise and Claude de Baissac. For the following six months he wrote reports on the French political situation for the forces preparing for D-Day.

1944 mission[edit]

SFHQ sent him back to France under the codename Jean in July 1944 to reactivate the PROFESSOR network in the Marne as the PEDLAR network, and to assist the French Resistance. He provided useful information for RAF bombing objectives and, from 24 August, was attached to Jedburgh Arnold's team.

After the war[edit]

In June 1948 he was a witness at the trial of Henri Déricourt, and his testimony was decisive in bringing about his acquittal.

Medals[edit]

Sources and external links[edit]

  • Photographs of Nicholas Bodington on the Special Forces Roll of Honour.
  • Michael Richard Daniell Foot, SOE in France. An account of the Work of the British Special Operations Executive in France, 1940-1944, London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1966, 1968 ; Whitehall History Publishing, in association with Frank Cass, 2004. Ce livre présente la version officielle britannique de l’histoire du SOE en France. Une référence.
  • Hugh Verity, Nous atterrissions de nuit, Vario, 2004.
  • André Gillois, L'Histoire secrète des Français à Londres, Le Cercle du nouveau Livre, Librairie Jules Taillandier, 1973.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Re-embarkation took place on 31 August 1942 with a certain solemnity in the little bay of Cap Long, in the commune of Agay where we waited for midnight in the house owned there by Germaine Sablon. André Girard and Henri Frager were present, as well as Joseph Kessel." [Source : André Gillois]