Jacqueline Nearne MBE, CdeG of SOE’s F (French) Section - code name "Designer"
Jacqueline Françoise Mary Josephine Nearne was born in Brighton at 32 West Hill Street on 27 May 1916.
The family relocated to London and in 1923 to France, eventually to Nice where Jacqueline finished her schooling and became a sales representative for an office equipment company. After the fall of France in 1940 the Nearnes moved to near Grenoble, in the unoccupied zone.
In April 1942 Jacqueline and her sister Eileen reached England via Spain and Portugal and in July Jacqueline joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (F.A.N.Y.), for secondment to French Section, S.O.E. After training she was approved as a courier to the STATIONER circuit and parachuted into France with her circuit leader, Maurice Southgate on 25 January 1943.
Jacqueline carried messages to and from the Résistance cells and other circuit members, meaning long and tiring train journeys over a huge area. After over a year’s strenuous work, she was exhausted and flown back to Britain on 9/10 April 1944. Following recuperation and additional training Jacqueline declared herself ready to return to active duty, but Allied advances in France negated her return.
She was awarded the MBE (Military) and, by the French, the Croix de Guerre. Post-war, Jacqueline worked for the UN organisation in New York until retirement and her return to England in 1978, but only four years later she died of cancer on 15 August 1982, aged 66 years.
Jacqueline Nearne's wartime service as a member of Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) will be honoured by a blue plaque being placed on the house in West Hill Street, Brighton that had been her family's home and was her birthplace 100 years ago.
Research, photos and additional information courtesy of Paul McCue, Unicorn, the Richardson Collection and Susan Ottaway