27 May 1916|
Brighton, England, UK
|Died||15 August 1982
London, England, UK
|Service/branch||Special Operations Executive, FANY|
|Years of service||1942–1944 (FANY/SOE)|
|Relations||Eileen Nearne (sister), Francis and Frederick Nearne (brothers)|
|Other work||United Nations|
Jacqueline Nearne MBE (27 May 1916 in Brighton, England – 15 August 1982 in London, England) was a secret agent for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
She was the elder daughter of an English father and a Spanish mother. She moved with her family to France in 1923. At the age of 18, she moved to Nice to work as a commercial travelling representative for an office equipment company. When France fell, she made her way to England via Portugal and Gibraltar.
On her arrival in England, she applied to the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) but was turned down as she had no experience of driving in the dark and on the left hand side of the road. In 1942, she was recruited into the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (the FANYs) alongside her younger sister Eileen. Her brother Francis also served in the SOE.
Nearne's fluency in French quickly brought her to the attention of F Section, a branch of the SOE. She trained as a courier in mid-1942. She was also taught Morse code transmissions using a suitcase radio, which would help her in her work with the French Resistance. She was the first woman, along with Odette Sansom, to train at Training School 51 Ringway Parachute School.
On 25 January 1943, she was parachuted into France to work for the vast Stationer circuit in central France. Despite the risks of being exposed or betrayed she travelled by train. She maintained contact with the neighbouring 'Headmaster' network and other SOE networks in the Paris area. She carried spare parts for radios inside a cosmetics bag. After fifteen months in the field, she finally returned to Britain in April 1944 by means of Westland Lysander.
Awards and honours
She was awarded the MBE in 1945.
|Member of the Order of the British Empire|
|1939–1945 Star||France and Germany Star||Defence Medal||War Medal|
After the War she looked after her sister, Eileen Nearne, in London. She then moved to New York City to work in the Protocol Department of the United Nations. In the 1950s, Brian Stonehouse painted a portrait of her which now hangs in the Special Forces Club in London.
In 1946 she played "Cat", a character based on herself, in the RAF's Film Unit production of Now It Can Be Told, which was later released to theatres in a shorter version as School for Danger, a drama-documentary about the wartime training and deployment of SOE operatives. Appearing with Jacqueline was her SOE colleague, Captain Harry Rée. School for Danger was released in 1948.
Nearne, who never married, died in 1982, aged 66, from undisclosed causes.
- John Fisher Burns (2010-09-21). "Eileen Nearne, wartime spy, dies at 89". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
The family fled to Spain ahead of the German occupation of France, arriving in Britain in 1942. Ms. Nearne, her older sister, Jacqueline, and their brother, Francis, were recruited by the Special Operations Executive. In March 1944, Didi Nearne followed her sister in parachuting into France, remaining there, under the code name Agent Rose, after her sister was airlifted back to Britain.