The name ‘Carré’ immediately evokes the shadowy world of espionage. Ironically, however, few people today have heard of the real Carré, also known as ‘Victoire’ and ‘La Chatte’, a female intelligence agent inside Nazi-occupied France whose life had enough plot twists and moral ambiguity to satisfy any spy novelist.
Mathilde Carré (1908-2007) had beena clever but rather neglected child. Desperate to give her life meaning, and inspired by the poems of a patriotic aunt, she had romantically decided ‘at all costs, to die as a martyr for France’. Thirty years later, after a number of false starts, the second world war finally presented her with the chance to live a life of real value. Recruited by Roman Czerniawski, a Polish air force officer stranded in France, she became the crucial French linchpin for his Allied espionage ambitions.