Donovan's Memorandum to Truman Regarding Virginia Hall
12 May 1945
MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT:
Miss Virginia Hall, an American civilian working for this agency in the European Theater of Operations, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against the enemy.
We understand that Miss Hall is the first civilian woman in this war to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.
Despite the fact that she was well known to the Gestapo, Miss Hall voluntarily returned to France in March 1944 to assist in sabotage operations against the Germans. Through her courage and physical endurance, even though she had previously lost a leg in an accident, Miss Hall, with two American officers, succeeded in organizing, arming and training three FFI Battalions which took part in many engagements with the enemy and a number of acts of sabotage, resulting in the demolition of many bridges, the destruction of a number of supply trains, and the disruption of enemy communications. As a result of the demolition of one bridge, a German convoy was ambushed and during a bitter struggle 150 Germans were killed and 500 were captured. In addition Miss Hall provided radio communication between London Headquarters and the Resistance Forces in the Haute Loire Department, transmitting and receiving operational and intelligence information. This was the most dangerous type of work as the enemy, whenever two or more directions finders could be turned in on a transmitter, were able to locate the transmittal point to within a couple of hundred yards. It was frequently necessary for Miss Hall to change her headquarters in order to avoid detection.
Inasmuch as an award for this kind has not been previously made during the present war, you may wish to make the presentation personally. Miss Hall is presently in the European Theater of Operations.
William J. Donovan
Source: United States National Archives
Added By: C. Peter Chen
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