Diana Rowden
MBE, Légion d'Honneur, C de G
Code Name: "Paulette"
Courier for Acrobat, Stockbroker/Prosper
(b.1915-d.1944)

Diana Hope Rowden was born January 31, 1915 in England. Her family soon moved to the French Riviera where she attended school in the towns of Saint-Remo and Cannes. After her family returned to England and settled in Surrey, Diana returned to France. There she attend the Sorbonne and, subsequently, begun to work as a journalist. With the start of World War II, Diana joined the French Red Cross. In May 1940, she found herself trapped in Nazi occupied France. In the summer of 1941, she made the perilous journey to England by escaping through Spain and Portugal. Upon her return to England she soon became a Section Officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and then garnered special attention from a senior SOE staff member, Harry Sporbord, who requested her as his personal secretary. When she met Squadron Leader William Simpson, she expressed her desire to return to France as a field agent. She joined the SOE and began her training in March of 1943. On June 16th, she landed in France along with agents Noor Inayat Khan and Cecily Lefort. She was assigned as a courier to the Acrobat circuit under John Starr. When John Starr was captured, Diana fell into a trap by meeting a German agent that pretended to be Starr's replacement. Diana was arrested on November 17, 1943.  She was taken to 84 Avenue Foch and interrogated for weeks. On July 6, 1944, she was taken to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp along with Vera Leigh, Andrée Borrel, and Sonia Olschanezky. Diana was injected with phenol, a caustic substance that produces muscular paralysis, after being told she was being inoculated against typhus. She was then burned in the camp’s crematorium.