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Odette Hallowes; First Woman to Gain George Cross

March 20, 1995

Odette Hallowes, 82, a British agent tortured by the Gestapo in World War II and the first woman awarded the George Cross. During the war, she worked with a French Resistance network operated by Capt. Peter Churchill in Cannes. As German and Italian forces swept through the Cote d'Azur, Hallowes and Churchill fled to the Alps around Annecy, where they were arrested. To protect each other, they pretended to be married. Her George Cross citation in 1946 credited her with saving Churchill from a firing squad by convincing the Gestapo that she was responsible for the couple's presence in France. Hallowes was interrogated at Fresnes Prison in Paris, where her back was burned with a hot iron and her toenails wrenched out. She continued to refuse to identify two agents sought by the Gestapo. She married Churchill in 1947, but they later divorced. Her story was made into a 1950 film, "Odette," starring Anna Naegle and Trevor Howard. In London on March 13.

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