Yvonne Fontaine was born on 8 August 1913. From Troyes, Yvonne witnessed Allied bombing raids and her initial contact with the French Resistance came about through helping Allied airmen, shot down over France, to escape to Spain.
For the SOE, Yvonne began work for the Tinker network as a courier with organiser Ben Cowburn. When the Gestapo closed in on the network, the SOE recalled Yvonne to Britain on 15 November 1943. At this stage Yvonne was not officially recognised as an SOE agent. Indeed, some sources still do not recognise her, which is a shame given her level of bravery and commitment.
In Britain, Yvonne underwent SOE training. She returned to France by boat landing on the North Breton coast on 25 March 1944 to continue her work as a courier. As a courier, she travelled throughout France, carrying messages and sabotage materials.
Yvonne’s network enjoyed numerous successes, which included destroying railway tracks and engines, sabotaging canals by lowering the water levels and dusting itching powder on to the shirts and singlets of German submarine crews.
When the Nazis arrested the leaders of Yvonne’s network, she stepped up and continued their work helping to organise the Resistance in the lead up to D-Day. In the euphoria post D-Day, she collected information and materials, and collated reports before returning to Britain on 16 September 1944, her mission successful.
After the war, Yvonne settled into married life. She died on 9 May 1996.