As March is Women’s History Month, I’m delighted to present the story of a woman I met to interview for my latest book, It Was Our War Too: Youth in the Shadows of WWII.
Shortly after graduating from college in Paris during World War II, Marie Vance volunteered to join the French Resistance fighters. She helped her country overcome German occupational forces by subterfuge. Among her exploits was parachuting from a plane – not once, but three times!
Marie is the only woman I’ve ever met who has this distinction. This is an excerpt of one of the 18 stories in the book which is available on Amazon
What an amazing woman!
When in 1942 Marie Louise Libersa finished college in Paris, she hoped to someday be a teacher. But that could wait.
The young woman raised near Faverney in the Haute-Saone region in Eastern France, wanted to do something more with her life.
Since the summer of 1940, France had been under the control of Nazi Germany. Other European countries — Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Greece, Norway, and Yugoslavia – had also fallen in defeat. The French people longed to have their freedoms restored. Marie longed to do something to help her country in its time of need.
Marie volunteered to serve as an interpreter for the French Underground. She was not only fluent in French, English, and German but Arabic, a language useful as Arab-speaking people were part of the French army.
During the next few years, Marie served as an interpreter for the French Resistance. She obtained information about the Germany military and passed it on to the Allies. She also interpreted for Charles de Gaulle, the French Army officer who led one of the few successful military operations against Germany during the initial invasion of France and later was elected President of France.
Marie adapted new skills, which included parachuting out of planes – something she did on three occasions. “I was needed in Spain and traveling by plane was the only way to get there,” she said. “I thought it was fun and never felt like my life was danger.”
Despite living in stressful circumstances, Marie never became sick or was injured and she always had enough food to eat. The American military paid her for her work with the French underground. “I didn’t get much money,” she said, “but I had everything I needed, which was food, clothing, and a place to sleep. I felt proud of what I was doing. The soldiers respected me and my work.”
After the war, Marie married an American soldier and moved to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Marie worked as an interpreter for the refugees arriving in the city. She and her husband who worked in a local factory, became parents to six children.
“I was proud and glad to have been a part of World War II,” said Marie. “I may not have been official like a soldier, but I helped.”