Lo­cal war hero hon­oured

Western Leader - - FRONT PAGE - LAINE MOGER

Seventy three years ago, Pippa Doyle parachuted into a field in oc­cu­pied northern France as a covert spe­cial agent dur­ing World War II.

The west Auck­land res­i­dent re­ceived the French Brevet Mil­i­taire de Parachutiste [French para­chute wings] medal for her ser­vice at an award cer­e­mony in Auck­land on Oc­to­ber 5.

Doyle, now 96, said she was hon­oured to be re­ceiv­ing ‘‘her wings’’ and they were very spe­cial to her. To an au­di­ence filled with mil­i­tary per­son­nel, fam­ily and friends, Doyle, oth­er­wise known as Phyl­lis La­tour Doyle, re­counted her land­ing in Nor­mandy, France.

‘‘We were on our third tour wait­ing for a sig­nal for me to land. None came. So we had to look for a field that had stock in it,’’ Doyle said.

Stock meant the field was safe as an empty field could be mined.

‘‘So we found a field that looked like it had a goat, and so that’s where I went in. That goat turned into a cow. And I’m ter­ri­fied of horns. So, that was my land­ing in France.’’

French Am­bas­sador Florence Jean­blanc-Risler, who pre­sented the medal, said Doyle’s ser­vice was crit­i­cal to the Nor­mandy land­ings and the sub­se­quent lib­er­a­tion of Europe.

Doyle, though 23 at the time, played on her diminu­tive size and biked around northern France pos­ing as a teenage French girl. She sold soap to Ger­man sol­diers and gath­ered in­for­ma­tion that she ra­dioed back to the Al­lies, all the while pur­sued by Nazis who tracked her sig­nals. Her codes were hid­den on a piece of silk that she kept in her hair.

Doyle, who has been a mem­ber of the Swan­son RSA for more than a decade, has al­ready re­ceived a num­ber of awards for her wartime ser­vice.

The awards in­cluded le´gion d’hon­neur in 2014, an MBE, the French Re­sis­tance Medal and the Croix de Guerre amongst oth­ers.

Doyle was born April 8, 1921, in South Africa. She was re­cruited by op­er­a­tives from Bri­tain’s Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Ex­ec­u­tive at the age of 20, after join­ing the Women’s Aux­il­iary Air Force in Eng­land as a flight me­chanic.

Doyle stayed un­der­cover in France till Oc­to­ber 9, 1944.

After the war, Doyle lived in Kenya, then Fiji, then Aus­tralia be­fore mov­ing to Auck­land, New Zealand in 1959 to raise her two sons.

DAVID WHITE/STUFF

War veteran Pippa Doyle pre­vi­ously met Vic­to­ria cross re­cip­i­ent Wil­lie Api­ata when she re­ceived France’s high­est dec­o­ra­tion: the Che­va­lier de I’Or­dre Na­tional de la Le­gion d’Hon­neur.

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