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Royal approval for pupils' war drama
9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014 in News
A SIXTH former from Perham Down Malvern St James Girls’ School has received a letter from HRH The Prince of Wales, commending her on a play written and performed as part of an A-level course in drama and theatre studies.
Year 13 pupil Caitlin Walters, from Malvern St James Girls’ School, together with Saskia Osterloff and Jessica Gregg, were inspired by the lives and bravery of three Special Operations Executive (SOE) women during the Second World War.
Their secret missions and bond of friendship are the basis of their production The Women That Time Forgot.
The girls were prompted to write to Prince Charles after he unveiled a memorial to the SOE women at RAF Tempsford, shortly following the performance of their show in MSJ’s drama centre.
The prince expressed his interest in the women agents and commended Jessica, Caitlin and Saskia for the “great deal of effort” they had put into their research.
The SOE was ordered by Winston Churchill to link up with resistance movements in Europe – primarily the French Resistance – to undermine the Germans in areas they occupied.
SOE schools were set up under the greatest of secrecy to train potential SOE operators in parachuting, unarmed combat and selfdefence as well as clandestine radio operations.
The Women That Time Forgot follows the lives of Violette Szabo, a former hairdresser and Woolworths sales assistant, Nancy Wake and Christine Granville, who were all approached to join the SOE.
Szabo successfully completed her first mission in France in April 1944. Then, in June 1944, she was sent in to Limoges, tasked with coordinating the work of the French Resistance in that area in the days after D-Day.
She was captured by the SS, handed over to The Gestapo and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where she was executed in January 1945.
She was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre.
Granville and Wake survived the war, but Wake was later killed by a stalker.
Granville lived to the age of 99 and her last request was to have her ashes scattered in the Pyrenees, where she had carried out operations with the resistance.
The play shows the women meeting as children, interspersed with extracts from the adult women’s lives and ending with the three united, taking tea together in the afterlife.
Patricia Woodhouse, headmistress of Malvern St James Girls’ School, said: “Jessica, Caitlin and Saskia wowed us with their very professional production of The Women That Time Forgot.”