I’m trying to find the name of a female spy during WWII. She was either American or British and was known for her beauty, her aristocratic manner and sexual conquests all in the line of duty. She may have married one of the men that she had “met on the job” after the war had ended.
Sometimes she didn’t have to steal information; she just demanded that her lovers give it to her and they did.
The short version:
She was American but was married to a Brit, was beautiful and known for sexual dalliances (her marriage was ending in a divorce) and managed to steal the French naval codebooks with the help of her French beau, who had not been a spy and whom Cynthia convinced to help her in the endeavor.
In particular these lines are among those that reminded me enough of your description that I decided to suggest her:
“…a French embassy attache who had been seduced by a female agent, code name Cynthia, working for both British and American intelligence.”
“The woman who answered was tall and slim with bright auburn hair, a cleft chin, and large, deep green eyes. Her voice was throaty, almost sensuous, but there was a lilt in her greeting. Stylishly dressed, poised, and elegant, this was Cynthia.” (Surely dramatized but gets the point across)
“Cynthia and her husband traveled to European and South American posts, where she conducted a series of foreign intrigues with assorted admirers. She once wrote in her diary, “I love to love with all my heart, only I have to appear cool. Life is but a stage on which to play. One’s role is to pretend, and always to hide one’s true feelings.” When Huntington met Cynthia, her marriage to Joseph Pack was dissolving in divorce. Her amorous relationship with Brousse would culminate after the war in her marriage to the Frenchman who had dared so much for her during his tour of duty in Washington.” (Note: she married the French guy)
“…she was asked by BSC to infiltrate the Vichy French embassy in Washington and establish a relationship with either the ambassador, Gaston Henry-Haye; his counselor, George Bertrand-Vigne; or Brousse, then an aide to the ambassador.”
Interesting. The nytimes link now asks me for a login when I click on it. I don’t have a nytimes account and I found the article through a google link, which, when I click on it now, also prompts me for login. I can view it still through Google’s cache link, so let’s see if that works.
Virginia Hall is generally given credit as the greatest female World War II Allied spy based largely on the Gestapo seeming to belive just that - American, she met and married a guy OTJ. But I don’t see much of the “sex as a weapon” stuff.
Nancy Wake was the most decorated Allied female spy. New Zealander, she had pre-war married a guy who helped her OTJ. Wiki gives her an AKA in that the movie Charlotte Gray is loosely based on Nancy Wake’s exploits
I always heard her name was Zoe and she so mesmerized the Gestapo officers in Paris that she could steal their secret document pouches while dancing with them, thus avoiding the messy “give it up for the cause” scenes.
It may be worth mentioning that Nigel West has suggested that, while her affairs were real enough, most of the stories about Amy Elizabeth Thorpe nicking codes were encouraged as cover for successes that were actually being achieved via ULTRA. But he only does so in passing in his Counterfeit Spies (St Ermin’s Press, 1998), which concentrates on bogus espionage books, and he doesn’t really elaborate on details or sources for this particular claim.
The author of The Spy Wore Red: My Adventures as an Undercover Agent in World War II is named Aline Romanos, she worked for the OSS, but published under the name “Aline, Countess of Romanones.” She admitted in the foreword to her book that it was “somewhat fictionalized.”
Once I was training on an integrated library system along with a librarian from the CIA, we were browsing through an online library catalog, and when she found a title about female spies in WWII, she said aloud that’s what she wanted to read. Wish I could remember the title.
Well, I didn’t earn an MLS for nothing. My Library-of-Congress-fu can sometimes outwit anyone else’s Google-fu. I found the title: Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS by Elizabeth P. McIntosh (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998). The Library of Congress database gives 9 titles with the subject heading “Women spies – United States – Biography.”
The Spy Wore Red and its sequels are an example of what West is more concerned with in Counterfeit Spies and he devotes a chapter to convincingly shreading them. His conclusion is that they have to be treated as completely fictional.
Wintermute’s link is actually the second chapter of McIntosh’s book.