Elaine Madden was a Belgian-born spy who served in the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II. She played a crucial role in gathering intelligence, disrupting the German war effort, protecting important figures, and communicating securely with Allied forces.

Madden first served in Belgium, where she was tasked with gathering intelligence on the V1 and V2 rocket launch sites. After undergoing further training, she parachuted back into Belgium in August 1944, becoming one of only two women parachutists sent to the country. Madden had to work undercover, gathering information from locals without arousing suspicion and avoiding detection by German forces, who were actively seeking out Allied spies. Despite the danger, Madden was successful in gathering important intelligence on the V1 and V2 launch sites, which helped the Allies to disrupt the German war effort.

Madden’s other mission was to protect and arrange the escape to Britain of Prince Charles of Belgium. He was a member of the Belgian royal family and had been active in the Belgian resistance against the German occupation. However, his activities had attracted the attention of the Gestapo, who were actively seeking his arrest. Madden was able to successfully protect Prince Charles and arrange his safe passage to Britain, where he continued to play an important role in the Allied war effort.

After completing her mission in Belgium, Madden joined an SOE group led by René Verstrepen in the western Netherlands, where she worked as a coder alongside wireless operator Michael Blaze. The group provided valuable information to the Canadian First Army. Madden’s coding skills were essential to the success of the mission, as they enabled the group to communicate securely and covertly with Allied forces.

Unlike the French section, SOE agents in Belgium were less well-known. Elaine was later awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre. Speaking of her war experiences she said, “I wasn’t a heroine. Just young and excited and willing to do anything except join the ATS! I wasn’t a heroine but I can still look in the mirror and feel proud”.