Category Archives: Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

Madame Fourcade FUN FACT #10

FUN FACT #10

When Fourcade died on July 20, 1989, at the age of 79, she became the first woman to be given a funeral at Les Invalides, a splendid complex of buildings in Paris that celebrates the military glory of France. Napoleon Bonaparte is buried at Les Invalides, as are dozens of other celebrated French military heroes.

The north front of the Invalides: Mansart’s dome above Bruant’s pedimented central block
By Daniel Vorndran / DXR, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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Madame Fourcade FUN FACT #9

FUN FACT #9

Fourcade was arrested twice during the war but escaped both times, once by stripping naked and forcing her slender body through the bars of a Gestapo jail cell in Aix-en-Provence.


This photograph shows the scrapes and bruises Fourcade received from squeezing through a tiny opening in the bars of her cell.

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Madame Fourcade FUN FACT #8

FUN FACT #8

Three months before D-Day, Fourcade’s spies in Normandy sent to London a 55-foot-long map of the beaches and roads on which the Allies would land, showing every German gun emplacement, fortification, and beach obstacle along the coast, together with details of German army units and their movements

French Resistance D-Day
Members of the French Resistance and the US 82nd Airborne division discuss the situation during the Battle of Normandy in 1944
By US Army Signal Corps – here; archived here, Public Domain, Link

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Madame Fourcade FUN FACT #7

FUN FACT #7

Thanks to Fourcade’s determined efforts, almost twenty percent of Alliance agents were women — the highest number of any resistance organization in France. Among them was a pert, pretty 23-year-old Parisienne named Jeannie Rousseau, who was responsible for one of the greatest intelligence coups of the war — information about the Germans’ V-1 and V-2 terror weapons.

Jeannie RousseauJEANNIE ROUSSEAU

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Madame Fourcade’s Fun Fact #6

FUN FACT #6

Fourcade had two young children born before the war, whom she dearly loved but did not see for months, even years, during the conflict. In the summer of 1943, after being informed that the Gestapo planned to seize her son and daughter as hostages, she arranged for them to be smuggled out of France. Not until later did she discover that they were abandoned before they got to the French border and had to make their own way into neutral Switzerland.


French Premier Pierre Laval and General Carl Oberg, the German police commander in Paris, responsible for the Gestapo and SS, May 1, 1943 (Bundesarchiv)
Copyright by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H25719 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, Link

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Madame Fourcade’s Fun Fact #5

FUN FACT #5

After Germany occupied Vichy France in November 1942, Fourcade was constantly on the run from the Gestapo. During the next eight months, she moved her headquarters eight times, starting in Marseille and ending in Paris. She was pregnant for most of this period.

Madame FourcadeA false identity card used by Fourcade

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Madame Fourcade’s Fun Fact #4

FUN FACT #4

A lifelong rebel against France’s deeply conservative, patriarchal society, Fourcade managed to convince hundreds of male agents, many of them ex-military officers “not known for their feminism,” to accept her as their chef. “She was young and very beautiful, but there was an unmistakable aura of authority around her,” one of them said after the war.

French Resistance
By Source: https://www.archives.gov/research/ww2/photos/images/ww2-102.jpg
Collection: https://www.archives.gov/research/ww2/photos/#germany, Public Domain, Link

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Madame Fourcade’s Fun Fact #3

FUN FACT #3

Madame Fourcade

For six months after the 31-year-old Fourcade took command of Alliance, she kept her identity a secret from Britain’s MI6, with whom Alliance worked, because she feared its leaders would never tolerate a woman as head of this large and important network. They finally learned the truth in December 1941, when, concealed in a diplomatic mail sack, she was smuggled into neutral Spain to meet with a MI6 representative.


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Madame Fourcade’s Fun Fact #2

FUN FACT #2

Although the French government in Vichy collaborated with Nazi Germany, not everyone in the government was pro-Hitler. In fact, many of the earliest anti-German resisters in France came from Vichy, and the Alliance network was created there just a few months after the country’s 1940 defeat.

Philippe Pétain meeting Hitler in October 1940

Philippe Pétain meeting Hitler in October 1940
(Pétain served as the Chief of State of Vichy France in World War II)
Copyright By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H25217 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Fun facts taken from Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, on sale now.

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Madame Fourcade – Fun Facts

For the next 3 weeks, I will be posting new & interesting fun facts from my new book, Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, on sale now.

FUN FACT #1

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade’s spy network, formally called Alliance, was known as Noah’s Ark by the Gestapo because its agents used the names of animals and birds as their aliases. For her own code name, Fourcade chose “Hedgehog,” a beguiling little animal that, thanks to the spines all over its body, was able to defend itself against its most fearsome adversaries.


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Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

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“One of the great stories of the French Resistance…of one woman’s courage amid great danger, of heroism, defiance, and, ultimately, victory.”
—Alan Furst, author of A Hero of France