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…”
- Photograph of Virginia Hall Receiving Award
- Memorandum for the President from William J. Donovan Regarding Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Award to Virginia Hall, 05/12/1945
- Citation for Virginia Hall for the Distinguished Service Cross
- Activity Report of Virginia Hall, 9/30/1944
(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:
- How to get started transcribing
- Transcribe Virginia Hall’s Activity Report
- Transcribe William J. Donovan’s memorandum regarding the DSC Award to Virginia Hall
Read more on Hall’s career at the CIA’s Spotlight on Women’s History: Virginia Hall