Violette Bushell, the daughter of an English father and a French mother, was born in France on June 26, 1921. She spent her early childhood in Paris where her father drove a taxi. The family moved to London and she was educated at a Brixton secondary school.
At the age of fourteen Violette left school and became first a hairdresser's assistant and then a sales assistant in a local department store.
During the Second World War Violette met Etienne Szabo, an officer in the Free French Army. The couple decided to get married (21st August 1940) when he heard he was about to be sent to fight in North Africa.
Violette Szabo's .32-caliber revolver
Soon after giving birth to a daughter, Tania Szabo, Violette heard that her husband had been killed at El Alamein. She now developed a strong desire to get involved in the war effort and was recruited to join the Special Operations Executive (SOE).
After completing her training she was parachuted into France where she had the task of obtaining information about the resistance possibilities in the Rouen area. Despite being arrested twice by the French police she completed her mission successfully and after being in occupied territory for six weeks she returned to England.
Violette returned to France in June 1944 but while with a member of the French Resistance was ambushed by a German patrol. She was captured and taken to Limoges and then to Paris. After being tortured by the Gestapo she was sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany.
On January 26, 1945, with Allied troops closing in on Nazi Germany, Violette Szabo was executed. She was 23 years old. She was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the George Cross. Her story is told in the book and film entitled Carve Her Name With Pride.