(Photo courtesy of Lorna Catling and the International Spy Museum)

Covering Her Tracks

Virginia, recruited by British Intelligence to be its “eyes and ears” in Vichy France, needed a cover story to keep the French Secret Police and Gestapo from prying into her clandestine life. Early in 1941 she contacted a family friend on the Board of the New York Post and was offered a position as a foreign correspondent.

Posing as a News Reporter

Being a journalist gave Virginia the freedom to ask probing questions of Vichy officials, determine their loyalty, and recruit a network of informants from among the disaffected.

In 1941 and 1942 she published a few articles in The New York Post about life in Vichy France.  Using her true name in the byline bolstered her credentials as a “legitimate” newswoman.

In actuality, Virginia was posing as a journalist to further her clandestine reporting.  George Backer, her “cut-out” at the New York Post, accepted Virginia’s secret reports and passed them to British Intelligence in London. Early in Virginia’s career as a journalist-spy, she sent her secret messages via Western Union telegram, encoding them to throw-off government censors looking for forbidden and espionage communications.

Forged Documents Supported Her Story

This Carte de Identite’, issued by the Vichy Government, was a critically important document because it gave legitimacy to Virginia’s cover assignment as a journalist.  Though she used her true name when working as a newswoman, she employed a wide variety of “pseudos” (pseudonyms–false names like Philomene, Germaine, and Marie) when engaging in clandestine activity with her agents.

To see photos and learn more about Virginia’s life of espionage, click here: Virginia Hall blog.

Craig Gralley’s book, “Hall of Mirrors— Virginia Hall: America’s Greatest Spy of WW II,” has been called:

“Riveting . . . A tremendous read!”Gen. David Petraeus (USA, ret.)

 “An extraordinary accomplishment . . . A stunner!”—Peter Earnest, Founding Exec. Director, International Spy Museum

“Enthralling!”Sarah Megan Thomas, Actress/Producer, “Liberte: A Call to Spy.”


For your own personalized copy click here: HALL OF MIRRORS