Liberation of Ravensbrück

On 30th April 1945, 75 years ago, the Soviet Army reached the gates of Ravensbrück, a concentration camp 90km north of Berlin which the Nazis had set up in 1939 to hold women prisoners of the Reich. By then about 132,000 women and children, and a small number of men, had passed through the camp. Nearly half that number perished there.

Among them was a number of female SOE agents who had been captured in France and transferred through the prison system to Ravensbrück. It was a work camp, not a death camp, supplying labour to several satellite camps, but such were the conditions in which the prisoners were kept many died of exhaustion, malnutrition and disease. Others were executed by direct decree from Berlin. Amongst these were members of the Corps:

Denise Bloch LdeH CdeG (Ambroise)
Executed January 1945 aged 29

Lilian Rolfe MBE CdeG (Nadine)
WAAF seconded to FANY
Executed January 1945 aged 30

Violette Szabo GC CdeG (Louise)
Executed January 1945 aged 23

Cecily LeFort CdeG (Alice)
WAAF seconded to FANY
Gassed February 1945 aged 44

Yvonne Rudellat MBE CdeG (Jacqueline)
Transferred to Bergen-Belsen, died of typhus April 1945 aged 48

Three of the female SOE agents and members of the Corps survived:

Yvonne Burney (as Basedon) MBE LdeH CdeG (Odette)

Odette Hallowes (as Sansom) GC MBE LdeH (Lise)

Eileen ‘Didi’ Nearne MBE CdeG (Rose)

In June 1993, when the fall of the Berlin Wall had made access to the camp possible, a plaque was dedicated to commemorate their courage and service.


see all news & events
If you would like to post a notification or picture to this news feed, please send your notice in email form to HQ at

more News & Events

First Military Medals awarded to the FANY

On the night of 18th May 1918, members of the St Omer Convoy were called out to evacuate patients after a bombing raid had hit a local ammunition dump. During the evacuation there was a second wave of bombing but the FANYs and VADs who formed the Convoy, refused to take cover and continued transporting patients.

Read more

Our support to fighting Covid-19

It was our privilege to to play a part in the fight against Covid-19. Over the past 100 years, our role has moved away from nursing, but compassion remains key to what we do.

Read more

Dedication of the FANY War Memorial

On the eve of VE Day 75 we remember the unveiling of the FANY memorial plaque to its war dead. On it were inscribed the names of 52 FANYs who had died on duty overseas and in the UK during the Second World War. For some, those lost at sea or murdered in concentration camps and with unknown graves, it was their first commemorative recognition.

Read more