Elizabeth Devereux-Rochester

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Elizabeth Devereaux-Rochester
Nickname(s) Elizabeth, "La Grande"
Born 20 December 1917
Died between 1981-1983
St. Malo, France
Allegiance United Kingdom, France
Service/branch Special Operations Executive, French Resistance
Years of service 1943-1944
Rank Field agent and guerrilla commander
Commands held Marksman
Awards Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, Croix de Guerre

Elizabeth Devereux Rochester (20 December 1917, date of death between 1981-1983 in St. Malo, France) was a member of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry who served with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II and worked as a courier for the French Section under the codename TYPIST (in French: DACTYLO).

Early life[edit]

The daughter of American parents, Babe Gunning and Richmond Rochester, Devereaux Rochester was educated by an English governess and at Roedean School in England. Her parents divorced and her mother married Myron Reynolds. Devereaux went by the name Rochester pre-dominantly, but seems to have also used Reynolds.

In the 1930s, she was living in Paris with her mother; when the Germans invaded France. She successfully worked as a driver for the French Red Cross until her cover was compromised. She escaped with a group leading several Jews into Switzerland. She became one of the leaders of the group and was later asked to return to France and work with the French Resistance. She led several downed pilots across the border to Switzerland until that route had to be closed. For this group she developed a new escape route across the Pyrénées.

Special Operations Executive[edit]

She joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in early 1943. Following training, she landed in a Hudson aircraft on 18 October 1943 in France with Richard Heslop (organiser of the Marksman circuit, codename "Xavier", a male radio operator and a RF agent).[1]

In Spring 1944 she was recalled by SOE to England, as she was deemed "too conspicuous". She left the Marksman circuit, but didn't return to England and instead went to Paris to see her mother. She was arrested on 20 March 1944 in Paris. She was released from the French gaol and eventually put in a Prison of War camp where she stayed until liberation.

Honours and awards[edit]

She was awarded the Legion of Honour; and the Croix de Guerre by France.

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1939–1945 Star France and Germany Star War Medal
Légion d'honneur
Croix de Guerre (France)

Later life[edit]

Following the war she lived in Paris and worked in advertising for the Vel d'Hiv. She inherited money from former California Governor, Leland Stanford, her great-great-great-uncle, and shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She lived her later years in Dinard in Brittany until her death. She was never married.