Blanche Charlet

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Blanche Charlet
Birth name Valentine Blanche Charlet
Nickname(s) Agent Japonica & Ventriloquist
Born (1898-05-23)23 May 1898
Westminster, London, England
Died 1985 (aged 87)
Camden, London, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Special Operations Executive
French Resistance
Years of service 1942–1944
Rank Field Agent and Guerrilla Commander
Commands held Japonica
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Member of the Order of the British Empire

Valentine Blanche Charlet MBE (1898–1985) 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.

She was born in London, England on 23 May 1898.[1][2]

Charlet took over the work carried out by fellow SOE agent Virginia Hall and worked with Brian Stonehouse. She arrived by felucca[3] on 1 September 1942.[4]

On 24 October 1942 German D/F (detector) vans picked up Stonehouse's radio signals while he was transmitting to London. They tracked him down to his safe house and arrested him. Before the Germans left, Charlet arrived for a pre-arranged meeting with Stonehouse and she too was arrested by the Milice[citation needed] in Chateau Hurlevent near Lyon, 69.

In November 1942 she was interned in Castres Prison for her SOE activities. In September 1943 she found a sympathetic wardress and got hold of pistols and spare keys and took part in a mass break-out with French resistante Suzanne Charisse. Blanche and Suzanne reached open country and, helped by a local farmer, took refuge in a Benedictine monastery. There they sheltered in a guest house for two months before the monks took them to the escape line in the Pyrénées, but as it was winter heavy snow stopped them from crossing to Spain.[5]

In April 1944 a message from Blanche reached the SOE Headquarters in Baker Street and a pick-up was arranged from Brittany. From there she crossed the channel back to Britain.

Honours and awards[edit]

On 19 February 1946 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by King George VI for services in France during the enemy occupation.[6]

Member of the Order of the British Empire 1939–1945 Star France and Germany Star War Medal


  1. ^ General Register Office index of births registered in July, August and September 1898 – Name: Charlet, Valentine Blanche. District: Westminster Volume: 1A Page: 501.
  2. ^ General Register Office index of deaths registered in October 1985 – Name: Charlet, Valentine Blanche. Birth Date: 23 May 1898. District: Camden. Volume: 14 Page: 1777.
  3. ^ M. R. D. Foot, SOE in France. An Account of the Work of the British Special Operations Executive in France 1940-1944, London, 1966.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Liane Jones, A Quiet Courage: Women Agents in the French Resistance, London, Transworld Publishers Ltd, 1990. ISBN 0-593-01663-7
  6. ^ "No. 37473". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 February 1946. p. 1015.