Virginia Hall receives the Distinguished Service Cross, 5/12/1945

“Miss Virginia Hall, an American civilian working for this agency in the European Theater of Operations, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against the enemy.

We understand that Miss Hall is the first civilian woman in this war to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.

Despite the fact that she was well known to the Gestapo, Miss Hall voluntarily returned to France in March 1944 to assist in sabotage operations against the Germans. Through her courage and physical endurance, even though she had previously lost a leg in an accident, Miss Hall, with two American officers, succeeded in organizing, arming and training three FFI Battalions which took part in many engagements with the enemy and a number of acts of sabotage…”

(From the Records of the Office of Strategic Services)

Denied a career in the Foreign Service due to an amputated leg, Virginia Hall would go on to work undercover in France during World War II for British intelligence and later the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), organizing numerous sabotage operations against German forces. In the memo dated May 12, OSS Director William J. Donovan informs President Truman that she has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross — the only female civilian in the war to receive this honor. After the war she became one of the new CIA’s first female officers.

You can read (and transcribe!) one of Virginia Hall’s Activity Reports in the National Archives Catalog:

Read more on Hall’s career at the CIA’s Spotlight on Women’s History: Virginia Hall


Rhythm by Virginia Hall

University of Delaware Varsity Women’s Rowing Team 2011-2012

Go Pro Hero Camera, Fall 2011

Lady of the day- Virginia Hall(6 April 1906 — 8 July 1982)- “the limping lady”

She was an American spy, working with British SOE during the WWII.  She rode an ambulance, was reportendly considered “the most dangerous of all Allies spies” by the Nazis,  helped train three battalions of Resistance forces, and all that with a prosthesis foot (and I bet all of you can imagine how adequate and comfortable were prothesis in the 40s). I even read that she was landed in France via parachute with her prothesis in her bag, but then wikipedia says something entirely different. Though, I like to believe this story, and you can see it clearly inspired this picture.

Watch: Daniel Bachman At Stratford Hall

In early March, we met Daniel Bachman in Fredericksburg to drive an hour east to Stratford Hall, home to four generations of the Lee family, which includes two signers of the Declaration of Independence; it’s also the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. Bachman knows it well, not only because his dad works there, but also because he can’t help but bury himself in history books about the region. 

Badass Women they didn't tell you about in history class

The idea is to reblog this post with the name and accomplishment of a badass woman from history.

Virginia Hall 1906-1982

Handicapped American badass who could kick the shit out of James Bond with a paperclip. Earned a Distinguished Service Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor for sheer BAMF-ery) for her services to the Allied forces as a spy during World War II. She traveled all over France and Spain reporting on German troop movements and dodging Gestapo agents by disguising herself as a little old lady. She helped the French Resistance sabotage German forces by fucking with their communications, blowing up bridges, and derailing trains. The Gestapo called her one the most dangerous Allied agents in France but could never get their hands on her, she was that fucking good. Oh, and she did all that with one leg.


New Heroes & Inspirations ART!!!

Barbara McClintock by Rin Venieris

Ida B. Wells & Sappho by Summer Suzuki

Virginia Hall by Molly Brewer

Dorothy Hodgkin by Diloolie

You can see all the art we have so far:

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You ever notice how almost all our popular spy movies involve suave dudes who blow up or shoot everything that’s in their way, or even anything that could maybe possibly get in their way?

What a waste, considering how many cool stories there are about real spies, acting like real spies tend to do.

Did you know that at the beginning of WWII, there was a british spy group whose only purpose was to find american politicians who were against joining the war and bribe, cajole, or blackmail them into changing their minds? The group was made up of famous and charming public figures. When the group singled out a loud senator(?) who was particularly against joining the war, they sent the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl, to the U.S. with the express purpose of sleeping with the senator’s wife so they could use blackmail him. And he did.

Or what about Virginia Hall. She wanted to be a diplomat but lost part of her leg in an accident. She ended up finding herself in France in 1939. At that time she served secretly in numerous capacities and was trained by the brits. Her underground work was so extensive, the germans put her on their most wanted list. They called her, “Woman with a limp,” “Artemis,” and “agent heckler.” She survived the entire war. This is especially impressive when you really think about the fact she was working on a wooden prosthesis, and the germans reallywanted her. (It’s not so good for a spy to have a super obvious defining feature, she took care of that by slowly training herself to walk without a limp). She also had to escape on foot into the winter mountains at one point. On her wooden leg.

That’s just two stories off the top of my head! We don’t need more tales about suave and brutal spies. I want the tales of the real ones. The ones who were quiet, and peculiar, and cunning; the ones who made the difference by staying in the shadows and emerging to take quick and clever slices at the enemy.

Virginia Hall

Virginia Hall was an American spy during WWII who, despite having an artificial leg (and thereby being somewhat noticeable), became one of the Nazi’s most wanted Allied spies. She worked with the underground French Resistance, helping with training, providing maps and organizing safe houses, as well as general intelligence. She used aliases and disguises to thwart detection and was never caught.

The British recognized her efforts in 1943 with the MBE and in 1945 with the Distinguished Service Cross. She was the only civilian woman to achieve this award during WWII.

Virginia Hall was born in Baltimore in 1906 and attended Radcliffe and Barnard Colleges. As a young woman, she worked at the U.S. embassy in Poland and traveled extensively in Europe, losing part of a leg in a shooting accident and developing the language skills that she would use on the front lines of intelligence gathering during World War II. She first worked for the British Special Operations Executive developing a spy network in Vichy France, and then escaped to Spain in late 1942. In 1944, Hall joined the Office of Strategic Services in order to return to France. Disguised as an elderly farmhand, Hall organized sabotage operations, supported resistance groups as a radio operator and courier, mapped drop zones, and helped sabotage German military movements. Despite her wooden leg, which she called Cuthbert, she helped train three battalions of Resistance fighters to wage war on the Germans and kept up a stream of valuable reporting. The Gestapo knew her as the “limping lady,” and called her the most dangerous of all Allied spies. In 1945, she received the Distinguished Service Cross - the only one awarded to a civilian woman in World War II. Several years later, she made the transition to the CIA, where she was one of the first female operations officers.

 via NBC News