From Krystyna Skarbek to Christine Granville

Born into an aristocratic family in Poland in 1908, Krystyna Skarbek became one of the longest-serving secret agents of the British Operations Executive during World War II. She was not afraid to risk her life to make the world a better place.

Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, pictured in France, August 1944. Photograph: Unknown. Photo is for public interest.

Winston Churchill’s favourite spy

For her extraordinary service she was presented with the George Medal and an OBE in Britain, the Croix de Guerre from France, and enough ribbons to make any general jealous. Sarah Oliver, Winston Churchill’s daughter, said that Churchill had even remarked that Skarbek was his favourite spy.

Photo: Yousuf Karsh. Library and Archives Canada, e010751643 / Yousuf Karsh. Bibliothèque et Archives e010751643. Photo is for public interest.

Probably the original Bond girl

The heroine of the very first James Bond novel, Vesper Lynd, was supposedly based on Krystyna Skarbek. Her life story and fearless attitude served as inspiration to the novelist Ian Fleming when he created his female daredevil.

Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville. Photograph: Unknown. Photo is for public interest.