Krystyna Skarbek (aka Christine Granville) died 67 years ago, on June 15th 1952. She was the Polish Countess and the longest serving female special agent of the Second World War. The vital intelligence she smuggled across borders prompted Churchill to remark she was his favourite spy.
Despite arrest, Krystyna used her talents not only to save her own life, but also many of her friends. For her courage and achievements in tree different theatres of war, she was awarded the OBE, the George Medal, and French Croix de Guerre.
General Stawell, the regional head of the SOE, said in his citation for Krystyna’s award for bravery:“Her nerve, coolness and devotion to duty and high courage…must certainly be regarded as one of the most remarkable personal exploits of the war”.
2 years ago she was honoured with bronze bust at Ognisko Polskie – Polish Heart Club. The idea for a bust came from Clare Mulley, the award winning author and popular public speaker who wrote Skarbek’s biography “The Spy Who Loved”. The bust has been made by her husband, Ian Wolter.
Many guests took part in this official evening of unveiling: Marzena Schejbal, who fought in Warsaw Upraising, Victoria Borwick MP from Kensington, the Polish actress Runa Lenska, the painter Barbara Kaczmarowska Hamilton, the Hungarian ambassador Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the last cursed solder in the UK Sergiusz Papliński, the councillor Robert Freeman, former Mayor of Kensington and many others.
A month ago a great lecture was given at the British Parliament by Clare Mulley on life of Krystyna Skarbek,
The event was organized by Lord Alderdice, Daniel Kawczynski MP and the Polish Ambassador in the UK Arkady Rzegocki. The event was a part of the #PLHeritageDay.
After the War, Christine tried her hand at various jobs – a telephonist at India House, a cleaner on a cruise ship, a saleswoman at Harrod’s dress department, but was not very successful in any of them and lived in poverty.
After surviving her wartime exploits against all the odds, her life ended tragically in 1952 when she was stabbed her to death at the Shellbourne Hotel in Lexham Gardens, near Earl’s Court by a 41-year old bathroom steward named Dennis George Muldowney.
Krystyna Skarbek was buried at Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery at Kensal Green in London,
Pictures: British Poles