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Expat wanderer

Virginia Hall: A Modest Heroine

The Good Shepherd, a new movie with Angelina Jolie, and Matt Damon, directed by Robert DeNiro (!), will open Friday, a story of the beginnings of the American intelligence services, the OSS and the CIA. I can hardly wait.

Earlier this week, there were some small news articles about Virginia Hall, who served her country risking her life time and time again, fighting the Nazis in the allied clandestine services, facing the possibility of torture and death if she were caught. Hall didn’t let anything hold her back. She believed that what she was doing was worth doing, and when WWII ended, she continued working quietly for the greater good. I would have loved to meet this woman. What a pistol!

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about her:

Virginia Hall MBE DSC (April 6, 1906 – July 14, 1982) was an American spy during World War II. She was also known by many aliases: “Marie Monin,” “Germaine,” “Diane,” and “Camille.”[1]

She was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended the best schools and colleges, but wanted to finish her studies in Europe. With help from her parents, she traveled the Continent and studied in France, Germany, and Austria, finally landing an appointment as a Consular Service clerk at the American Embassy in Warsaw, Poland in 1931. Hall hoped to join the Foreign Service, but the loss of her lower leg was a terrible setback. Around 1932 she accidentally shot herself in the left leg when hunting in Turkey, it was later amputed from the knee down, which caused her a limp.[2]

The injury foreclosed whatever chance she might have had for a diplomatic career, and she resigned from the Department of State in 1939.

The coming of war that year found Hall in Paris. She joined the Ambulance Service before the fall of France and ended up in Vichy-controlled territory when the fighting stopped in the summer of 1940. Hall made her way to London and volunteered for Britain’s newly formed Special Operations Executive, which sent her back to Vichy in August 1941. She spent the next 15 months there, helping to coordinate the activities of the French Underground in Vichy and the occupied zone of France. When the Germans suddenly seized all of France in November 1942, Hall barely escaped to Spain.[3]

Journeying back to London (after working for SOE for a time in Madrid), in July 1943 she was quietly made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. The British had wanted to recognize her contribution with a higher honor but were afraid it might compromise her identity as she was then still active as an operative.

Virginia Hall joined the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Special Operations Branch in March 1944 and asked to return to occupied France. She hardly needed training in clandestine work behind enemy lines, and OSS promptly granted her request and landed her from a British MTB in Brittany (her artificial leg kept her from parachuting in).

Code named “Diane,” she eluded the Gestapo and contacted the French Resistance in central France. She mapped drop zones for supplies and commandos from England, found safe houses, and linked up with a Jedburgh team after the Allied Forces landed at Normandy. Hall helped train three battalions of Resistance forces to wage guerrilla warfare against the Germans and kept up a stream of valuable reporting until Allied troops overtook her small band in September.

For her efforts in France, General William Joseph Donovan in September 1945 personally awarded Virginia Hall a Distinguished Service Cross — the only one awarded to a civilian woman in World War II. (emphasis mine)


In 1950, she married OSS agent Paul Goillot. In 1951, she joined the Central Intelligence Agency working as an intelligence analyst on French parliamentary affairs. She retired in 1966 to a farm in Barnesville, Maryland.
Virginia Hall Goillot died at the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, MD in 1982.

Her story was told in “The Wolves at the Door : The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy” by Judith L. Pearson (2005) The Lyons Press, ISBN 1-59228-762-X

She was honoured in 2006 again, at the French and British embassies for her courageous work.[4]

December 14, 2006 Posted by | Books, ExPat Life, France, Germany, News, Political Issues, Social Issues, Uncategorized, Women's Issues | 6 Comments

Christmas Party Stars: Shrimp Mousse

Shrimp Mousse

A friend gave me this recipe when we lived in Jordan, and I have used it ever since. It is one of the all-stars! Looks and tastes so elegant, and makes up SO EASY. Everything you need is available here in Kuwait, and this is a great way to make use of Kuwaiti shrimp, only available this year until January.

You can also serve it in slices as a first course on a lettuce leaf with some parsley. Keep back several shrimp to cut in half and use as embellishment.

1 can tomato soup
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
2 envelopes Knox Gelatine
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup (or one can) small cleaned and cooked shrimp
1/4 cup cold water

Heat soup and add cream cheese, stir until it becomes all smooth and creamy. Remove from heat. Dissolve Knox Gelatine in 1/4 cup cold water, add to soup and cream cheese mix. Let cool and add mayonnaise, onion, celery and shrimp. Pour into 1 1/2 quart mold and chill in refrigerator until firm. (I use two smaller molds) Unmold and serve with crackers.

December 14, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, ExPat Life, Holiday, Kuwait, Recipes | 4 Comments

Christmas Party Stars: Herbed Cheese Ball

Herbed Cheese Ball

Herbed Cheese Ball tastes just like Boursin, but even better, because you make it yourself and it is FRESH. It tastes great, it is EASY, and it is also very fattening. You can make it ahead of time, and it will last quite a while – weeks – in the refrigerator. Boursin cheese was hot in the 70’s.

If you live in Kuwait, you can find everything you need between the Co-op and the Sultan Center.

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
16 ounces cream cheese, room temp
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon oregano
1/3 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dill weed

Mix together until all is well blended. Serve in ramekin or form into a ball, May be rolled in coarsly ground pepper as a variation. Serve with crackers.

December 14, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, ExPat Life, Holiday, Kuwait, Recipes | 3 Comments

Christmas Party Stars: Artichoke Cheese Dip

As with all the cookie and candy recipes, these ones are really really easy. This first one is very flexible, so flexible I don’t even use the recipe any more. You can use canned artichokes, marinated artichokes, frozen artichokes, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, etc.

I’ll give you the basics. You make it a time or two, and then . . . play with it. Make it your own. Share the results with me! 🙂

At one party I gave, two men stood by this dip for an hour, and polished it off between them! Some people don’t like the heat of jalepenos, and if you think your guests like less heat, you don’t have to add them.

Artichoke Cheese Dip

After you have made this a couple times, you don’t even have to measure – you just sort of throw things in. A sure fire crowd pleaser.

1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped canned red pimentos
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon (just a pinch) cumin powder
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1-2 finely chopped jalepenos (optional, but these make it the BEST)

Combine all ingredients, turn into baking dish (I use a quiche dish) and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until bubbling hot. Serve with tortilla chips.

December 14, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Holiday, Kuwait, Recipes | 3 Comments