Daring French WWII Spy Dead at 88

Robert de La Rochefoucauld known for wartime exploits

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 10, 2012 12:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – A sort of real-life 007, one of the last living members of Winston Churchill's clandestine World War II SOE unit, has died at age 88. Robert de La Rochefoucauld died May 8, but his death proved to be just as secretive as some of his exploits, the New York Times notes; it did not emerge in the British press until late last month. Born into one of the oldest French noble families in 1923, de La Rochefoucauld joined Charles de Gaulle and his Free French forces after Hitler invaded France, fleeing to Spain after he became known to the Gestapo in 1942 and later joining Britain's Special Operations Executive.

His exploits in the SOE included parachuting into France more than once, blowing up railroad tracks, escaping from the Nazis via a stolen limousine, smuggling explosives via hollowed-out loaves of bread, and fleeing the Nazis once again while wearing a nun's habit. He also once escaped the Germans by faking a seizure, felling his guard with a table leg, and breaking his neck before shooting two other guards with the first guard's pistol. After the war, de La Rochefoucauld trained troops as an officer in the French military, then went into business and served as mayor of Ouzouer-sur-Trézée for 30 years. He published his memoirs in 2002.

He was kind of a real-life James Bond.
He was kind of a real-life James Bond.   (Shutterstock)
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