Torbay hero Lilian Bishop has received recognition for her crucial contribution to a secret mission that came in the week after D-Day.
June 12 is the 80th anniversary of Operation Squabble. This operation may not be as well-known as Operation Overlord but in its own way, some would say, was equally important.
In 1942, RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip Joubert de la Ferté devised a propaganda idea to boost French morale. The concept was to send a single Bristol Beaufighter, a long-range heavy fighter over to Paris to carry out a raid, part of which involved dropping a French tricolore on the Arc de Triomphe with a back-up target of the Nazi Navy Headquarters in Paris. The raid was a success and the flags dropped and performed as planned.
Whilst both Pilot and Co-Pilot survived the war, they are sadly no longer with us. However, at 98 years young and living in a nursing home in Paignton, we do have Lillian Bishop, the young WAAF seamstress, who made one of the flags for the operation, although she didn’t know it at the time.
This became known because a local author took the trouble to write to the Paignton Branch of the Royal British Legion to ask if there was anything that could be done to celebrate this event.
With the aid of the Devon County President of the RBL, the French military, represented by the Chef de Bataillon on exchange service with the Royal Marines alongside the Royal Air Force Association and the Royal Air Force Cadets, a small celebration was organised at the nursing home.
Lillian, accompanied by her twin daughters, was presented with a French flag, her Second World War medals, which she had never received, and a veteran’s badge.
Operation Squabble was seen as a major boost to the oppressed citizens of occupied France, coming in the same week as the D-Day landings, and also a considerable message to the German forces in Paris that the War was entering a defining period.
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