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Mary Katherine Herbert (1903 - 1983)

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Mary Katherine "Claudine" Herbert
Born in Irelandmap
Daughter of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Frant, Sussex, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Aug 2017
This page has been accessed 271 times.
Mary Herbert is Notable.


Mary Herbert was born 1903 in Ireland. [1]

She joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, (WAAF) at RAF Innsworth on 19 September 1941 as a General Duties and Intelligence Clerk.

Note: Innsworth was a non flying "Royal Air Force station", on the north side of the city of Gloucester [2]

Mary was released at her own request from the WAAF so she could be a SOE or Special Operations Executive, in March 1942. She was the first WAAF officer to volunteer, as she had been granted a retrospective commission with the rank of section officer dated from 15 January 1941. She was 39 years old when she joined the SOE.

Starting on October 30 1942 after her arrival in France, Mary traveled to Bordeaux to act as a courier to the Scientist circuit, using the code name "Claudine". She traveled by bicycle and train, liaising with the different groups within Scientist, carrying messages, acting as a 'post-box for the members of the circuit and also seeking out safe houses and potential recruits. Additionally she helped to arrange and was present at parachute drops.[3]

While working in France, Mary met fellow SOE Agent Claude de Baissac in the Scientist circuit, by whom she had a daughter in December 1943.

On 18 February 1944, Herbert was arrested in Poitiers. The Gestapo had found out that the flat was maintained by an SOE Agent, and they initially thought that Herbert was Lisé de Baissac. Mary protested her innocence saying she knew nothing of the woman who owned it and had only been there a few weeks. She was finally released during Easter, 1944.

Mary Herbert and Claude de Baissac were married in November 1944. On 23 January 1983, Mary Katherine Herbert died of pneumonia at her cottage in Frant, Sussex with her daughter at her side. [4]

Mary Herbert's Awards and Decorations were as follows:

  • 1939–1945 Star [5]
  • France and Germany Star [6]
  • War Medal 1939–1945 [7]
  • The Croix de Guerre (France) [8] Mary was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French, but unlike her contemporaries, received no British award.



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