31 OCTOBER 2017 – Yvonne Burney, who has died aged 95, was the youngest female SOE agent to be parachuted into wartime France, where she organised one of the largest daylight air drops of arms to the resistance, before being betrayed, arrested by the Gestapo, and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp.
She was born Yvonne Jeanne de Vibraye Baseden in Paris on January 20 1922. Her British father, Clifford Baseden, had served as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, only to crash land not far from the Chateau de Frescines, north-west of Blois. Her mother, Antoinette de Vibraye, was the volunteer ambulance driver who was sent to fetch him from hospital after his wounds had been dressed; she brought him back for dinner to the chateau, where romance blossomed. Telegraph.co.uk/obituay
On Remembrance Day, I met an ex-service woman called Yvonne Burney, also known under the code name “Odette”…
On 4 September 1940, only aged eighteen, Yvonne enrols as a WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). « In war time, you don’t mind, you sign up » she confides with great humility. Like her father before her, she is keen to help her country and is quickly promoted to officer. Thanks to her fluent French she joins the SEO (Special Operation Executive). From that moment on, she is Odette, the British spy.
Odette becomes a radio-operator and starts training in the North of England for a potential air drop… Franceinlondon.