Speed Reads

this woman is awesome

93-year-old honored by France for her incredible work as a WWII spy

Fifteen years ago, Phyllis "Pippa" Latour Doyle finally told her children about her past as Genevieve, Paulette, Plus Fours, and Lampooner — all code names from her time as a British spy during World War II.

The 93-year-old, now living in New Zealand, relayed 135 secret messages from France to Britain during the war, the Telegraph reports. She was one of just a few women in the Special Operations Executive, created to sabotage the Nazis, and was honored for her service late last month when France gave her the Legion of Honor, their highest decoration.

The mission was personal for her: The father of her godmother had been shot by the Germans, and her godmother killed herself when she was taken prisoner. "I did it for revenge," Doyle said in a 2009 interview. A cat burglar was released from jail specifically to teach Doyle how to sneak into places unnoticed; he showed her how to go down drain pipes and climb over roofs without getting caught. Once inside France, Doyle posed as a poor 14-year-old girl. She had 30 minutes to send her messages; it took the Germans 90 minutes to trace the signal, and she had just enough time to get out of the danger zone.

After the war, Doyle settled into a normal life, and said that if one of her sons hadn't discovered information about her past on the internet, she might have never told her family.