For decades she has remained in the shadows; a reluctant heroine with an astonishing past. But on Tuesday, Phyllis Latour Doyle, a 93-year-old former British spy, will step into the limelight.
Seventy years after being parachuted behind enemy lines in occupied Normandy, Mrs Doyle – or Pippa to her friends – will be awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest decoration, in recognition of her courage in helping to liberate the country from the Nazis.
Motivated in part by revenge for the murder by the Germans of a close family friend, Mrs Doyle engaged in a mission to gather information on German positions ahead of the D-Day landings. In all, she relayed 135 secret messages to Britain before France’s eventual liberation in August 1944.
She was awarded the MBE for her bravery by the British government but her actions have remained largely unheralded. Mrs Doyle didn’t even tell her children about her exploits until 15 years ago.