Peggy Knight

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Marguerite "Peggy" Knight
Nickname(s) Nicole
Born (1920-04-19)19 April 1920
Paris, France
Died 2004 (aged 83–84)
Allegiance United Kingdom, France
Service/branch Special Operations Executive, French Resistance
Years of service 1944
Rank Field agent
Unit SOE F Section, Donkeyman network
Awards

MBE,
Croix de guerre,

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Marguerite Diana Frances "Peggy" Knight (later Smith) MBE (19 April 1920 – 2004[1]) was a member of the Women's Transport Service who served with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II and worked as a courier for the French Section.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Marguerite Knight, best known by her nickname "Peggy," was born 19 April 1920 in Paris, France, the daughter of Capt. Alfred Rex Knight and his wife, the former Charlotte Beatrice Mary Ditkowski.[2] She worked as a shorthand typist for the Asea Electric Company of Walthamstow, a district northeast of London, England.[2]

Military activities[edit]

Owing to her mixed British-French parentage and upbringing in France, Knight was a nearly perfect speaker of the French language — so much so that one day early in the spring of 1944 leaders of the British intelligence organization Special Operations Executive (SOE) overheard her speaking French in a cafe and immediately moved to recruit her into to the organization.[3]

On 11 April 1944, Knight began attendance at the Students' Assessment Board of the SOE at Wanborough. She was rushed through a cursory two week training course at Thame Park, Saltmarsh, during which she did only one practice parachute jump from a static balloon, rather than the customary three, before being sent behind enemy lines in Vichy France to establish herself as a secret British courier.[3]

Under the code name "Nicole," Knight worked as a courier for the SOE's Donkeyman network.[2] Following the Allied invasion of France at Normandy of June and July 1944, Knight crossed back and forth between battle lines several times, carrying intelligence messages and information.[3] Knight also participated directly in an attack by the French resistance upon a German military convoy, firing her Sten submachine gun during the course of the operation.[3]

Knight narrowly escaped capture and execution later in 1944 when she and a group of resistance fighters were betrayed by one of their number to the Nazis.[3] Knight was one of about 30 fighters who managed to fight through a German encirclement.[3] The man responsible for the betrayal, Roger Bardet, was later arrested, tried, and sentenced to death as a collaborator after the war.[4] This sentence was commuted, however, and Bardet was ultimately released from prison in 1955.[5]

Knight left the employment of the SOE in November 1944.[2]

Awards[edit]

For her wartime activity Peggy Knight was later awarded high British, French, and American honors, including appointment as a member of the The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,[6] the Croix de guerre,[7] and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ England & Wales, Death Index: 1916-2006
  2. ^ a b c d "Marguerite Diana Frances (Peggy) Knight," Special Forces Roll of Honour: Awards, www.specialforcesroh.com/
  3. ^ a b c d e f John Prados, Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003; pg. 15.
  4. ^ Prados, Lost Crusader, pp. 15-16.
  5. ^ Prados, Lost Crusader, pg. 16.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37149. p. 3333. 22 June 1945.
  7. ^ Cameron Ramos, "From the Typewriter to Blazing Sten Gun," Harrow Times, March 20, 2005.

Further reading[edit]

  • Marcus Binney, The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Agents of the Special Operations Executive. New York: William Morrow, 2002.

External links[edit]