Count Robert de la Rochefoucauld, wartime SOE agent: born Paris 16 September 1923; married Bernadette de Marcieu de Gontaut-Biron (one son, three daughters); died Ouzouer-sur-Trézée, France .Refine this list by Region: Angus, By Forfar, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Helensburgh, Inverness, Inverness-Shire, Isle of Skye, Kingdom Of Fife, Kirkwall, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Perthshire, Perthshire and Kinross, Ross-Shire, or click here to show membersin all countries.Descended from an ancient French noble family, Count Robert de la Rochefoucauld was one of the last surviving French agents of Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE), the secret organisation set up by Winston Churchill to aid anti-Nazi resistance fighters.There are now believed to be only two surviving French agents of the SOE, which Churchill ordered to "set Europe ablaze" through sabotage.They worked in parallel with, though not always in agreement with, the more famous F Section run by the legendary spymaster Maurice Buckmaster.The SOE would later be dubbed "the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare".He considered two options, one of them to take the cyanide"L-Tablet" hidden in the heel of his shoe, which would kill him within 15 seconds.
Churchill had asked his Minister of Economic Warfare, Hugh Dalton, to set up the clandestine SOE, partly to resist any German invasion of Britain and partly to support resistance groups in Europe.
De la Rochefoucauld received parachute, sabotage and commando training at secret locations in England and Scotland, including "silent killing" techniques taught by the renowned duo Fairbairn and Sykes – designers of the famous commando knife – at Arisaig, Inverness-shire, before being parachuted back into his homeland.
Dropped into France twice by the RAF, captured twice by the Nazis and once sentenced to death by firing squad, he survived by using the unarmed combat skills taught to him in the Scottish Highlands.
The three were apprehended by Franco's police and interned for two months in the infamous Miranda de Ebro camp for foreign prisoners which had been used by Franco's forces as a concentration camp for Republicans during the Civil War.
De la Rochefoucauld was lucky to have been with the British airmen: Britain's ambassador to Spain sprang all three of them and arranged an RAF flight to London.