Anne Russell. RIP.

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Peter Clare, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Anne Russell, who has died aged 90, worked at Bletchley Park in the Second World War before driving ambulances for the Free French during the Allied thrust into Germany; subsequently she was employed by the Deuxième Bureau — French Military Intelligence — in the Indo-China campaign.

    Aged just 17, Anne began working as a decoding clerk at Bletchley Park, the government code and cipher centre in Buckinghamshire. Alan Turing was in the next room and used to secure his mug to the radiator with two padlocks.

    She subsequently became an ambulance driver for the Free French Forces and, in autumn 1944, joined the 9th Colonial Infantry Division. She took part in the Alsace campaign, the forced crossing of the Rhine and the advance through the Black Forest.

    On one occasion, while she was driving under enemy fire, a shell went right through the canvas sides of the vehicle without exploding. On another, impatient to catch up with the convoy after delivering a casualty to hospital, she took a shortcut through back roads and arrived in a German town before the Allies, much to their surprise. In recognition of her bravery, she was twice awarded the Croix de Guerre.

    Anne Swinton Lee, the daughter of an Army officer, was born at Brayton Hall, Aspatria, Cumbria, on June 13 1923. Both her parents were good riders, and country life and horses were an important part of her childhood. One of her vivid memories was of her grandfather going out hunting one morning and his horse bringing him back dead in the saddle in the evening.

    She was educated at St Ethelburga’s, a Roman Catholic boarding school near York, where the teachers, she said, “were stout women in black tights who played cricket”.
    After the war in North-West Europe, Anne Russell was demobilised; but many of the close friends she had made while serving in France were being sent to French Indo-China, and she persuaded her CO to let her sign up as a volunteer. One of a handful of women on the troopship bound for Saigon, she suffered badly from seasickness on the month-long voyage.
    At Colombo, she and a girlfriend sneaked into the town in defiance of orders not to go ashore. As punishment they were confined to their cabin – but after protests from men on board who had been taken to safety in their ambulances this sanction was lifted.
    Anne came to believe that the war in French Indo-China was not an honourable conflict and became demoralised. After a ruling that women were no longer permitted to drive ambulances, she was recruited to the Deuxième Bureau.
    One of her tasks was giving English lessons to the girlfriend of a rebel leader in the hope that she might glean information about his whereabouts. She learned nothing about the rebel but found herself being given “Free Indo-China” pamphlets. These were subsequently discovered in the back of her Jeep and she had an uncomfortable time explaining this to the French authorities.
    She returned to England but found it hard to settle and worked as a freelance writer for a number of publications before finding more stable employment with the Evening Standard. Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton were among those she interviewed.
    She became assistant editor of the National Coal Board’s magazine Coal and, for a spell, headed up the Board’s film section. After her marriage in 1954 to Martin Russell, a banker, she lived with him in London, where they were entertaining and generous hosts.
    Anne Russell had an adventurous sense of taste and combined her husband’s large collection of Ceylonese paintings, Persian carpets and Buddha statues with more classical Russell family busts, traditional English furniture and book collections.
    In the 1980s they moved to a cottage in Dorset, where she continued to live after her husband’s death until a fall in 2010 brought an end to her cherished independence.
    As well as her husband, one of Anne Russell’s sons predeceased her. She is survived by a son and two daughters.

    Anne Russell, born June 13 1923, died November 25 2013
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    A life well lived...........

    RIP Anne Russell

  3. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Anne Russell RIP

  4. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day peter clare,very senior member, Russell R.I.P.a very heroic lady,may she rest in peace.regards bernard85
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    :poppy: Anne Russell. R.I.P. :poppy:

  6. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Anne Russell seemed like an interesting character. During WW2, the Brayton Park estate (where the report says she was born) was requisitioned by the RAF.

    :poppy: Anne Russell. R.I.P. :poppy:
  7. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    :poppy: Anne Russell. R.I.P. :poppy:

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