January, 1943.

French Resistance agent Denise Bloch, 26 years old, hikes through the Pyrenees on her way to Spain. Wearing a skirt and half-length coat, she makes the trek on foot, in sub-freezing cold, at high altitude. She is lucky; already she has narrowly evaded capture by the Gestapo, not to mention “liquidation” by fellow Resistance agents, who considered her a nuisance. Encountering deep snow and enemy patrols, she is forced to turn back.

Bloch spent the next 4 months working as a courier with the agents who had at first considered getting rid of her. They are impressed with her bravery.  On one of her trips to meet a fellow agent in Toulouse, she was stopped by a Gestapo agent. She engaged him in conversation and amused him by pretending to speak poor German. She asked him to hold her suitcase while she went to buy a newspaper. The case contained her radio.

Bloch finally made the trek across the Pyrenees successfully in April, and after being detained by Spanish authorities, made her way to London. She trained for 10 months with the SOE as a wireless operator, parachutist and industrial saboteur. Respected by her trainers, she was described as “…an experienced woman with knowledge of the world. She has courage and determination and … complete self-assurance and is capable of handling most situations.”

Bloch returned to France in early March, 1944, with agent Robert Benoist. Her orders were to act as courier, encoder and wireless operator, and to assist in the attack on high pylons over the River Loire and to cut railway and telephone lines converging on Nantes before D Day, to disrupt German communications.

Bloch spent the next 3 months passing information to London and carrying out sabotage operations. But in June the Gestapo finally caught up with her. She was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, along with agents Violet Szabo and Lillian Rolfe. All three were executed a few months later.