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The Incredible Story Of The Housewife Who Became World War Two’s Most Decorated Spy

World War II

When you think of World War II, you think of male soldiers fighting on the front lines. While young men did battle during the war, there were others who you would never expect to see fighting. Today, it is not uncommon for a wife and mother to join the military. It also isn’t unusual for these women to be deployed overseas. World War II was a very different time. Women often stayed home with the children, while their men went off to war. A Frenchwoman named Odette Sansom was willing to leave everything behind to do what she could during the war. This is the incredible story of the housewife who became World War Two’s most decorated spy.


The year was 1942, and Odette Samson was living in England’s Somerset, where she was raising her three children. Her British husband was off in the army, so she was left alone caring for her children. This was common back in 1942 because many men were going off to war. Due to Odette’s French background, she was approached by British intelligence. They were looking for women who were willing to go on very dangerous espionage missions in France. The women were warned that if they were captured by the Germans, it would be a death sentence. Even though she knew the dangers, Odette was willing to go to France as a spy, a most decorated spy. Despite the dangers, she wanted to do her part.

The Children

Because Odette’s husband was off fighting in the war already, Odette had to find someone to care for her children. She was 30-years-old at the time, and she put her children in a convent school. She needed for them to be safe and cared for, and since Odette didn’t have much family, the convent school would be the best place for her children for the time being. As much as she hated to leave them behind, she knew that taking part in the war was essential. The sooner the war came to an end, the sooner her family would be back together again.


Odette landed on a beach in the French Riviera in November 1942. She was going to be part of a network of intelligence agents called Spindle. A British agent named Captain Peter Churchill was the leader of the Spindle network. While under Captain Churchill’s command, Odette would be working as his courier. The two had to work very closely together during their mission.

April 1943

The missions were going as planned for several months, but in April 1943, the Germans arrested Odette and Captain Churchill. When they were arrested, they were separated immediately. Odette was taken to Fresnes Prison, located on the outskirts of Paris. She knew that her mission was dangerous and that arrest was possible, so she wasn’t too surprised. She just worried that she would never see her children again. And she knew that she had to be strong if she was ever going to go home again.

Gestapo’s Parisian Headquarters

While Odette was imprisoned, she was taken to the Gestapo’s Parisian Headquarters a total of 14 times. The Germans wanted her to give up the names of the other agents. To get her to talk, Odette was tortured. No matter what they did to her, she refused to talk. Finally, they realized that there was nothing that they could do to break her. Finally, they gave up and transferred her.

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp

When the Gestapo realized that Odette wouldn’t talk, they sent her to the notorious Revensbruck concentration camp for women in northern Germany. The odds of surviving the concentration camp were against her. It was a horrible place, and over 50,000 women died while there. Against all the odds, Odette survived.

After the War

When the war ended, Odette was released from the camp. For her bravery and service, and being the most decorated spy the British gave her the country’s second-highest medal, the George Cross. She was also awarded to Order of the British Empire. She was also given the country’s top award, the Legion d’Honneur. After what she went through to the British secrets, she deserved these awards.

Odette’s Personal Life

After the war, Odette divorced her husband, Soy Sansom. In 1947, she married Peter Churchill. That marriage didn’t last, and the two divorced. Odette got married a third time and took her husband’s last name, Hallowes. She remained married to her husband until her death in 1995. She was 82 years old. Odette lived a very exciting life, and she was brave. After World War II, Odette’s time in the military was over, and she settled down with her children, leading a normal life. She was happy to have put her time as a spy behind her, but it was a part of her life that made her feel great pride.

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