Virginia Hall “the limping lady”

The one legged spy the Nazi’s couldnt catch

Virginia Hall was a highly educated Boston native who joined the American diplomatic service in 1933 after college. She tripped while hunting birds in Turkey, and shot herself in the foot causing her leg to be amputated below the knee. She was given a prosthetic wooden leg which she named “Cuthbert”.

Relegated to a clerk after her accident, she tried to get a job at the US Department of State but they had a ban on hiring disabled personnel. She resigned her job and went to drive ambulances in France during the invasion of France in 1940. There she met an SOE British agent who offered her a job working for the intelligence services of the UK.

She ran a clandestine group in France for several years doing everything from sabotage to prison escapes. Trusting no one, she had a keen nose for traitors and was never captured and often was the only one to escape. The Gestapo sent 500 agents to locate and eliminate her but were unsuccessful. Escaping over a mountain into Spain she sent a radio message to her operations director that read as follows: “ I am fine but Cuthbert is giving me a lot of trouble”. Not knowing she was talking about her leg, she was ordered to eliminate Cuthbert if he caused any more trouble.

Virginia eventually ended up working for the OSS (early CIA) until the end of the war. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Croix de Guerre, and Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her service. It takes Valor to face your disabilities, put yourself at risk, and do things no one else has done before.

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