Pearl Cornioley: the real life Charlotte Gray

April 2008

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Pearl Cornioley: the real life Charlotte Gray

This fascinating file records the brilliant exploits of female Special Operations Executive agent Pearl Cornioley, who was parachuted into France in 1943 with instructions to act as a courier of coded messages. The first file includes a copy of her application form, details of code conventions between her and headquarters and preliminary reports from officers training her in explosives, demolitions and weapons training ('outstanding with a pistol and other weapons.'). Handwritten reports by Cornioley provide an insight into her development during training. The file also features her cover story and reports of her progress after she had landed in France.

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The second file continues to outline Cornioley's experiences in France. It includes a copy of a letter in which she declines to accept the civilian MBE awarded to her for her service in France: 'It is not for me to criticise the rules for decorating H.M. Forces, but I do consider it most unjust to be given a civilian decoration… Our training, which we did with the men, was purely military… and I personally was responsible for the training and organisation, etc of nearly three thousand men for sabotage and guerrilla warfare'.

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