A new addition to the legion of blue plaque holders (in fact there have been two in the last month) Wing Commander F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas. As I type I'm watching a documentary about orphan survivors of the holocaust. As far as I'm concerned anyone who fought in the conflict against the Nazis deserves recognition. It's amazing to think of the "last good war" in a world where the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are viewed with a jaundiced eye by those who see the Halliburton contracts and where that money is ending up. Thats not to diminish the heroism of those engaged in those conflicts of course but such stories from the wars of the last century are commonplace.
Wing Commander Forest Frederick Edward Yeo-Thomas was educated in France after his family moved when he was a child, he fought with the Poles against the Russians in the First World War, was captured by the Russians and escaped execution only by strangling a guard. Between the wars he worked in a Paris Fashion House fleeing to Britain wheew he worked in intellegence for a while before joining the SOE, the Special Operations Executive who supported and coordinated resistance efforts against the occupying Nazi forces. Yeo-Thomas parachuted into occupied France three times, twice in 1943 where he aided the orgainisation and supply to arms and equipment to the resistance and then again in 1944. He was captured at Passy Metro station after being betrayed and was taken to the Gestapo Headquarters in Paris where he was tortured, including being water-boarded (which as we all know is not torture at all, just a excuse for a quick wash for the prisoner or am I perhaps being a tad cynical here?) He was transported to Buchenwald concentration camp where he met the officer in charge of 168 allied prisoners being held at the notorious concentration camp. He escaped and reached American lines. I would say that that was where his war ended but he also was a prosecution and a defence witness during the Dachau War Crimes Trial. He died in 1964 after returning to civilian life, working for a French fashion house. A truly astonishing life and one that deserves to be celebrated. The irony of a secret agent being celebrated in such a public manner is not entirely lost here I have to say.