The Polish Heritage Society
Secret Agent Krystyna Skarbek GM, OBE celebrated as Polish Heritage Society renovates London grave
A celebration of the life of Krystyna Skarbek, the Polish woman who was one of Britain’s most daring highly-decorated secret agents during World War Two, was held on 10th May 2013, midday to mark the renovation of her grave in a London cemetery by the Polish Heritage Society.
Krystyna was born in Poland 1908 but, at the outbreak of war in 1939, made her way to London with her husband, and offered her services to Britain’s intelligence services. She was sent to Budapest, from where she made clandestine trips to Poland to recruit couriers to smuggle out intelligence reports.
Later in the war, Krystyna joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and was parachuted into France where an agent’s life expectancy was six weeks. The intelligence she gathered was a significant contribution to the Allied war effort and her success was reflected in the fact that she was awarded the George Medal, the OBE and the Croix de Guerre. General Stawell, the regional head of the SOE, said in his citation for Krystyna’s award for bravery: “Her nerve, coolness and devotion to duty and high courage...must certainly be regarded as one of the most remarkable personal exploits of the war”.
After surviving her wartime exploits against all the odds, her life ended tragically in 1952 when she was stabbed to death by an obsessed man at a hotel in West London. By then she had formally adopted her wartime British agent name of “Christine Granville”.
Skarbek has been the subject of numerous books, including recent works by Marcus Binner (2002), Madeleine Masson (2007) and Clare Mulley (2013), and she features prominently in at least two others.
She was buried in St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, northwest London. The ashes of her closest wartime colleague, Andrzej Kowerski-Kennedy, were later buried alongside her.
Her life was celebrated at a ceremony there in the presence of a number of dignitaries and guests who included:
His Excellency The Polish Ambassador Mr. Witold Sobkow
Lady Mayoress, Mrs Ann Hobson
Mayor of Brent, Cllr. Michael Adeyeye
Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea, Cllr. Christopher Buckmastere
Mrs Malgosia Alterman, PHS UK
Mr Jacek Bernasinski, SPK
Mr Artur Bildziuk, Pilsudski Institute
Mrs Izabela Blauth-Muszkowska, friend of Krystyna Skarbek
Mr Henryk Budzynski, AK
Mr Philip Bujak, PHS UK
Col Richard Ciaglinski, former Military Attache to Warsaw
Nicolas T. Courtois, UCL
Mr Piotrek Dobroniak, Cooltura
Major General Sir John Drewienkiewicz CB CMG
Air Vice Marshall Peter Dye OBE
Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxilliary Bishop of Westminster
Mr Otton Hulacki, Veteran, Polish Armed Forces
Mrs Hanka Januszewska, PHS UK
Mr Christopher Januszewski, PHS UK
Ms Jagoda Kaczorowska, Polish Scouts
Mr Patrick Kennedy
Mrs Grazyna Kleiber
Mrs Maryla Kolendo
Mr Janusz Kolendo
Beata Kowalska, PHS
Ryszard Kowalski, PHS
Polish Defence Military Attache Navy Capt. Stanislaw Krol
Mrs Janina Kwiatkowska
Mr. Lewis, RAF Museum Hendon
Mrs Elizabeth Malhomme de la Roche, PHS UK
Clare Malley, Writer
Mrs Anita Meeson, APKM UK
Dr W. Mier Jedrzejowicz, APKM UK
Mr W. Moszczynski, SPK
Ron Nowicki, Writer
Mrs. Eugenia Maresh, Historian and Writer, PUMST
Mr. Marek Rencki, PHS UK
Col. Michael Russell, Commandant Aldershot Garison + 4 paratroopers
French Military Attache Rear Admiral Henri Schrick
Dr Mark Stella-Sawicki, MBE, PHS UK
Mrs. Marzenna Schejbal, AK
Consul Robert Szaniawski
Mrs. Klementyna Szymaniak, Anglo-Polish Society
Mr. N. Thatcher, ITV London
Consul General Ireneusz Truszkowski
Major Marek Tymieniecki
Fr. Wladyslaw Wyszowadzki, Polish Catholic Mission, APKM UK
Press & Media representatives
In the media
The Guardian: Polish spy said to be inspiration for Bond girls to be commemorated
Krystyna Skarbek, who won a string of medals for her wartime exploits, was described as having mesmeric power over men.
Local News UK: Polish spy said to be inspiration for Bond girls to be commemorated
Krystyna Skarbek, who won a string of medals for her wartime exploits, was described as having mesmeric power over menThe extraordinary life and tragic death of a Polish secret agent, said to have inspired the creation of at least two of Ian Fleming's heroines in James Bond novels, will be commemorated this weekend at her graveside in London.
BBC: Polish spy Krystyna Skarbek remembered
The life of a Polish-born woman, whose daring as a secret agent for Britain was said to have been the inspiration for one of James Bond creator Ian Fleming's most glamorous spies, has been celebrated at a service in London.
The real spy 'who inspired Bond girl' : Listen
London Evening Standard - 10 May 2013
Brytyjczycy czczą pamięć polskiego superszpiega
W najbliższy weekend działacze brytyjskiej Polonii odsłonią podczas oficjalnej uroczystości odrestaurowany grób Krystyny Skarbek w północnym Londynie.
Wielka Brytania: upamiętniona pamięć Krystyny Skarbek, polskiego superszpiega
Krystyna Skarbek urodziła się w 1908 roku. Podczas II wojny światowej służyła jako szpieg i była jednym z najlepszym w szeregach aliantów. Została odznaczona szeregiem medali, w tym brytyjskim Medalem Jedzerzego, Orderem Imperium Brytyjskiego, czy francuskim Krzyżem Wojennym.
Odrestaurowano grób bohaterki SOE Krystyny Skarbek
Na katolickim cmentarzu Kensal Green w płn. Londynie poświęcono odrestaurowany grób "ulubionej agentki Churchilla" Krystyny Skarbek-Granville, bohaterki brytyjskich operacji specjalnych SOE (Special Operations Executive).
cooltura online: Krystyna Skarbek
W wyniku wielomiesięcznej i intensywnej współpracy pomiędzy Konsulem Generalnym RP w Londynie Ireneuszem Truszkowskim a Polish Heritage Society UK grobowiec Krystyny Skarbek został kompletnie odrestaurowany i zabezpieczony na przyszłość.
Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London: Commemoration of Krystyna Skarbek
Krystyna Skarbek aka Christine Granville GM OBE Croix de Guerre, a Pole serving in the British secret service during the World War II, commemorated in London’s St Mary’s RC Church, Kensal Green.
Ham & High: Celebration marks life of secret agent Krystyna Skarbek who inspired Bond girls
The life of one of Britain’s most daring secret agents who is said to have inspired Bond girls Vesper Lynd and Tatiana Romanova has been celebrated.