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Poetry of Direct Personal Experience
Our Collection of Aviation and Military Poetry

The Life That I Have
Leo Marks 1943

The life that I have

Is all that I have

And the life that I have

Is yours

The love that I have

Of the life that I have

Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have

A rest I shall have

Yet death will be but a pause

For the peace of my years

In the long green grass

Will be yours and yours and yours.

Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell Szabo, (26 June 1921 – c. 5 February 1945) was a World War II French-British secret agent, codename Louise. Her husband, an officer with the Free French army, died in battle with the enemy at El Alamein (he is photographed with her to the right). She was by reputation the best shot in British Special Operations Executive (SOE). After parachuting into France for SOE on her second mission, she was captured following a running gun battle and was subsequently brutally and horrendously interrogated in ways too horrifying to describe. She revealed absolutely nothing. She was eventually sent to a concentration camp. Some accounts say she was 'executed'. Some say she was 'shot by firing squad'. The fact is, this indomitable spirit was murdered, aged 23, by SS firing squad scum on or about 5 February 1945, along with other women Resistance fighters. Her body was cremated in the camp's crematorium. Holder of Britain's highest civilian award for gallantry, the George Cross, and of the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance. She left behind a young daughter, Tania, and an indelible story of personal bravery, retold in the film 'Carve Her Name With Pride'. This poem was written by Leo Marks (pictured to the right), code master of SOE and provided by him to act as an emergency coding cypher for Violette's messages to London - a so-called 'poem code'. Marks' moving book 'Between Silk and Cyanide' recounts the fascinating story of Violette and other secret agents.

Pictured right is the monument at London's Embankment to Special Operations Executive, unveiled in 2009.

Violette has been an inspiration to the authors of this site for her dedication to duty and to a higher calling even than her own family. Mention of her name never fails to bring us to tears, so highly do we honour this extraordinary woman.

Violette's daughter Tania has a wonderful website dedicated to the memory of her mother, including links to her carefully researched biography. (as of February 2019, most of the content of this site is sadly unavailable. We will check from time to time to see if it gets restored)

A marvellous blog exists with a collection of contemporary newspaper articles about Violette and her fellow-agent, the cerebral Noor Inayat Khan (Madeleine). Fascinating reading.

The Vitz Archive (on this site) includes details of other SOE heroines murdered by Gestapo and other criminal scum.

We salute the heroines of SOE!

Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell Szabo portrait

Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell Szabo plaque

Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell Szabo medals

Leo and statue

Violette with husband Etienne Szabo

Violette Szabo GC

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 • Last Modified: 12 July 2022, 11:14