Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1929-1944 - Camden Road (Camden)

Secret agent Yolande Unternährer was born on 28 October 1911 in Paris, the daughter of Swiss parents. The family moved to England in 1929 and first settled in north-west London. On finishing her education, Yolande was fluent in English, Italian, and French. She set up in business, working with her mother, as a designer of children’s clothes, operating from a shop at no. 272 Camden Road, and living in nearby Highgate.

At the outbreak of war, Yolande and her two sisters joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force where she trained as a wireless operator. Because of her language skills and wireless expertise, she was recruited in February 1953 by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). In 1943, she married Sergeant Jaap Beekman of the Dutch army. Soon after the wedding she was flown behind enemy lines in France (September 1943).

She was an efficient agent who, in addition to her radio transmissions to London, took charge of the distribution of materials dropped by Allied planes. Her transmissions were intercepted and in January 1944 she was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo. First imprisoned in a civilian prison for women at Karlsruhe, she was transferred to Dachau and executed on 13 September.

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