Maurice Newnham Parachuting Logbook – note exit heights
Staff history and awards
SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE (SOE)
PJI s not only trained SOE agents to parachute but despatched them more often than not behind enemy lines. Agents were despatched at night and at low altitudes all over the world on covert operations. SOE as an organisation carried more operational descents than the British Army but they only jumped in small numbers due to the nature of their work.
PJIs were involved in the training of Odette Churchill.
Having left the relative safety of Britain behind, Odette Churchill (nee Sansom) landed in occupied France near Cannes by parachute in 1942 before heading to the rendezvous point to meet her supervisor, Peter Churchill. Churchill had entered the country some months earlier to co-ordinate the activities of the SOE’s “F” Section Spindle network in Montpellier. Odette was based in this area and tasked with assisting the French Resistance.
On the 16th April 1943, however Odette’s luck ran out. Betrayed by a double agent, they were arrested and tortured by the Gestapo. She was condemned to death in June 1943 but not given a specific execution date. Odette’s cover story was that Peter Churchill was Sir Winston Churchill’s nephew and she was his wife. She subsequently spent the rest of the war in a concentration camp and survived to testify against her captors.