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Violette Szabo


The life that I have
by Leo Marks

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.

For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.




During World War Two, Leo Marks was responsible for giving Britain's Special Operations Executive's agents a secure code with which they could communicate with London. The memorising of poems was a popular way to equip spies since there was no need to write anything down. Marks made them far more secure by using, and in some cases composing, original poems. In 1943 Marks had met and fallen in love with a woman who lived in a neighbouring flat in the Edgware Road, but within three months she had been killed in an air-crash. When Violette Szabo, nee Bushell (Louise in SOE's French Salesman circuit), needed a code-poem for another mission, Marks gave her the lines that he had written for the dead woman. Szabo, by this time, had acquired a reputation as one of SOE's best shots and fieriest characters. Curious, she asked who had written them. 'I'll check up', Marks told her, 'and let you know when you get back'. In fact, as Marks had feared, Szabo never returned. She was parachuted into France on 7 June 1944, the night after D-Day, but was captured three days later after running out of ammunition giving covering fire for a fellow agent who managed to escape. She was tortured, distinguished herself by distributing water to fellow prisoners on a train under fire by the RAF, while the guards were hiding beside the track and eventually executed at Ravensbrück in early 1945. She was awarded the GC.


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