WI members met, once again, via Zoom this month and were entertained by our speaker Peter Batty. Peter’s talk was about women in World War II but specifically those women whose courage and stoicism went beyond the pale. Among them was Corrie Ten Boom, from Holland, who, with her father and sister, hid and helped numerous Jews in her family home. Eventually they were caught and sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and she was the only one to survive.
Perhaps the most amazing history was that of Virginia Hall who was a pioneering agent for the Special Operations Executive, the first female agent to take up residence in France in August 1941. Over the next 15 months, she became an expert at support operations – organising resistance movements; supplying agents with money, weapons, and supplies; helping downed airmen to escape; offering safe houses and medical assistance to wounded agents and pilots. Having lost part of her leg in a hunting accident, she used a prosthesis she named "Cuthbert”. She was also known as "the limping lady" by the Germans and disguised herself as a shuffling elderly woman to hide the limp.
Peter closed his talk by providing with lots of information about what the WI did in WWII and the tonnes of jam that was made from fruit which would otherwise have rotted on the trees, bushes and in the hedgerows.
Every woman had a part to play - some in the face of prejudice, misogyny and immense danger - and they were all totally inspirational.