British expat decorated for Resistance work
CHATEAUVIEUX, France, April 11, 2006 (AFP) - A 93-year-old Englishwoman who was parachuted to fight alongside the French Resistance during World War II, was awarded a Royal Air Force (RAF) medal on Tuesday.
“I am happy and proud,” Cecile Cornioley — nicknamed “Pauline” by Resistance fighters — said as she was decorated by two British officers at her retirement home in Chateauvieux in central France.
“After 63 years, the RAF has found out that a woman was parachuted into France in the war. It was about time,” she quipped.
A fluent French speaker, Cornioley was working at the British embassy in Paris when the war broke out.
“I wanted to make myself useful,” she explained.
On her return to England, she joined the RAF and volunteered for a special operations group charged with hindering the German advance into France and helping underground Resistance fighters.
On September 23, 1943, at the age of 29, she was parachuted near the central city of Chateauroux, where she helped a local Resistance group organise and procure weapons — and met her future husband, Henri Cornioley.
“If I had the chance, I’d do it again — even if I was afraid,” she said.
Cornioley said she had not been registered on the RAF’s official files, having carried out fewer than five parachute jumps, which explained why her exploits had gone unnoticed for so long.
Subject: French news