Georges Bégué or George P. Begue (22 November 1911 – 18
December 1993) was a French engineer and agent in the Special
1 Early life
2 World War II
Special Operations Executive
2.2 Messages personnels
2.4 Return to Britain
3 Emigration to the United States
4 Personal life
5 See also
7 External links
Georges Bégué was born 22 November 1911 in Périgueux, France. His
father was a railway engineer and the family moved to
Bégué was a child. Bégué also trained as an engineer at University
of Hull where he learned English and met his wife. He went through his
military service as a signaller.
World War II
At the outbreak of World War II, Bégué was recalled to his unit.
Because of his knowledge of English he was assigned to liaison with
the British troops. He eventually escaped to Britain during the
Dunkirk evacuation. After the surrender of France, he joined the Royal
Signals as a sergeant, meeting
Thomas Cadett the Paris correspondent
of the BBC who was working in SOE's F section. It was suggested that
Bégué be parachuted into France.
Special Operations Executive
In 1940 SOE recruited Bégué to the new French section, and gave him
the alias Georges Noble. After a short training course, he was
Indre on the night of 5 May 1941 with a heavy
transmitter in a suitcase. He was the first SOE agent in France. He
Max Hymans in
Valencay and eventually convinced
him that he was not a trap.
Bégué settled in
Châteauroux with his transmitter and sent the
first message to London 9 May 1941. SOE sent three other agents,
including Pierre de Vomécourt, to join him. During the following six
months Bégué helped to establish resistance network and agents in
France and arranged arms drops. Bégué was the main contact to SOE in
London and sometimes transmitted three times a day.
His suggestion that the BBC overseas service from 1940–44, Radio
Londres, would be used to overtly send pre-arranged coded messages
(messages personnels) was accepted and led to widespread use, in the
style of There is a fire at the insurance agency. This was to reduce
radio traffic from SOE correspondents in France, and would even be
used to tell SOE agents the sex of children born to their wives back
in England. This culminated in the line from a French poem Les
sanglots longs des violons de l’automne blessent mon cœur d’une
langueur monotone which explicitly warned Resistance agents of the
imminent invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The Germans knew what it
meant, having earlier tortured a Resistance member, but (fortunately
for the invasion's success) undue bureaucracy got in the way of
propagating the message through to more-relevant commanders.
One SOE agent Gerry Morel went off his own way to recruit resistance
members and Milice, the Vichy
France police, arrested him at Limoges
on 3 October 1941. His arrest led to more arrests and eventually to
Bégué, who was arrested 24 October in a
Marseilles safe house. He
was sent to join other SOE agents in the Beleyme prison in Périgueux.
They were later transferred to a prison camp in Mauzac on March 1942,
thanks to intervention of the American Consul-General Hugh Fullerton.
Bégué created a duplicate key and the group escaped 16 July 1942,
and transmitted from the camp which had led to the escape.
Bégué and others hid in Mauzac in the middle of a forest and
continued to Lyon on 23 July in separate groups. They contacted Vic
escape network and eventually walked to neutral Spain over the
Pyrenees. Bégué was interned at
Figueres and sent to Miranda de Ebro
prison camp but were later released to continue his way to Britain. He
got to London in October 1942.
Return to Britain
Bégué was appointed Signals Officer in the F section under Maurice
Buckmaster. He stayed in England, and having invaluable experience of
being an SOE agent, he was not sent on any more operational duties. He
was also awarded the Military Cross.
Emigration to the United States
After the war Bégué emigrated to the United States. He worked in a
number of menial jobs before he could officially become an electronics
engineer. He also took US citizenship.
George Bégué died 18 December 1993 in
Falls Church, Virginia
Falls Church, Virginia due to
old age, he was 81.
He was married to Rosemary (from England) and had two daughters,
Brigitte and Suzanne.
SOE F Section timeline
SOE F Section networks
^ a b c
Social Security Death Index "Archived copy". Archived from the
original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
Example of Messages personnels on YouTube
Warning of an invasion (French language tel