Henri Déricourt


Henri Déricourt

Henri Dericourt (1909-1962) was a French agent for Special Operations Executive. There is ambiguity as to whether he became a double agent for the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), or was working under British instructions.

Life and work

Henri Déricourt was born in France in September 1909. As an adult he first became a civilian pilot and then French Air Force test pilot. After the defeat of France in 1940 he again became a civilian pilot.

In August 1942, Déricourt deceived local MI9 agents (Escape Service) in Marseilles and got transport to Britain where he was investigated by MI5 (Security Service) and allegedly recruited by MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) before eventually having his name and credentials passed to the Special Operations Executive (SOE). On January 22, 1943, he was sent into occupied France as an SOE agent. He worked with the Prosper Network and others by arranging flights to transport over 67 SOE agents in and out of France.

However, in the summer of 1943 when the SD arrested several British agents, some of the local agents noticed that Dericourt had contacts with a number of officers in the SD. In fact evidence recently uncovered makes it clear Dericourt established contacts with the SD as soon as he returned to France. However, many senior SOE agents and even Maurice Buckmaster vouched for him. Dericourt continued his work until February 1944.

Déricourt's seeming duplicity was revealed after the war when war crimes investigators (including Vera Atkins) received absolute information from German sources that Dericourt had been one of their agents, BOE48, and his aid has led to the arrest and execution of several SOE agents.

French authorities arrested Dericourt in November 1946. At his 1948 trial, the evidence was not sufficient and Dericourt was acquitted. Dericourt himself claimed later that SOE deliberately sacrificed agents to distract attention from the Allied invasion plans. In fact, evidence has since emerged that Dericourt had been 'run' by MI6 throughout, and that his work for SOE had just been a cover to get him close to the Germans. This scenario was acknowledged by the SOE's Second in Command Harry Sporborg, who investigated Dericourt upon his return from France in February 1944. "There was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Déricourt was being employed by MI6 for functions which were outside SOE's sphere of operations."

Henri Dericourt was killed in an aircraft accident on November 20, 1962 over Laos. However, there has been speculation that the death was faked.

References

* [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SOEdericourt.htm Spartacus Schoolnet about Dericourt]
* [http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/c-d/cross.html Channel 4 - Robin Cross: "The triumphs & disasters of Churchill's secret army"]

Bibliography

*Jean Overton Fuller, "Dericourt: The Chequered Spy" (Michael Russell, 1989) ISBN 0859551490


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