Bloody Mary and Other Fearsome Women From History
Bloody Mary and Other Fearsome Women From History

Bloody Mary and Other Fearsome Women From History

Khalid Elhassan - October 14, 2023

Bloody Mary and Other Fearsome Women From History
Virginia Hall. All That is Interesting

An Overlooked Heroine and the Bloody Gestapo

Klaus Barbie, a bloody minded Gestapo official known as “The Butcher of Lyon” for the thousands whom he ordered tortured and killed, was hot on Virginia Hall’s trail. He plastered wanted posters all over the place that featured a sketch of her face above the words: “The Enemy’s Most Dangerous Spy – We Must Find and Destroy Her!” Hall, who was so good at disguises that she could be four different women with four different identities in a single afternoon, evaded his clutches. Eventually, things got hot enough that she had to flee France. She made a hazardous escape in 1942 that included a 50-mile trek on foot in heavy snow across the Pyrenees Mountains into neutral Spain. The Spanish arrested her for lack of an entrance visa, and she spent six weeks in jail before she was finally freed and returned to Britain.

Bloody Mary and Other Fearsome Women From History

Soon as she caught her breath, Hall volunteered to return to France. The SOE decided it was too dangerous. By then, however, the US had joined WWII, and its Office of Strategic Services (OSS), America’s version of the SOE, was glad to have her. Back in France, this time as an OSS agent, Hall called in airdrops for the Resistance, and coordinated their activities with the Allies. Her network eventually numbered 1500 members, including a French-American soldier, Paul Goillot, whom she eventually married. Hall’s extraordinary heroism earned her a Distinguished Service Cross. She was the only woman to receive such an award – America’s second highest distinction – in WWII. After the war, she spent fifteen years in the CIA. Despite her vast hands-on experience, she faced discrimination as a woman, and was restricted to desk duty. She eventually resigned in 1966, and died in relative obscurity in 1982.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading


Clements, Barbara Evans – Bolshevik Women (1997)

Collector, The – The 5 Cruelest Women in History to Hold Power

Devries, Kelly – Joan of Arc: A Military Leader (2003)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Lakshmi Bai

Encyclopedia Britannica – Matilda, Daughter of Henry I

Futurist Dolmen – Rozalia Zemlyachka: An Incomplete Biography

Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe, Volume III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (2002)

Hanley, Catherine – Matilda: Empress, Queen, Warrior (2019)

Herodotus – The Histories, Books 7 and 8

History Collection – One of History’s Greatest Minds, Hypatia, Was Brutally Disposed of for Being a Woman With too Much Power

Journal of Medieval History, Volume III (2005) – Sichelgaita of Salerno: Amazon or Trophy Wife?

Kiernan, Ben – Viet Nam: A History From Earliest Times to the Present (2019)

Lebra, Joyce C. – Women Against the Raj: The Rani of Jhansi Regiment (2008)

Legends of America – Belle Starr, the Bandit Queen

Love British History – 9 Times the Empress Matilda Was a Total Badass

National Archives – Virginia Hall of the OSS, May 12, 1945

National Public Radio – ‘A Woman of No Importance’ Finally Gets Her Due

Owlcation – 10 Famous Female Outlaws of the Wild West

Porter, Linda – Mary Tudor: The First Queen (2007)

Richey, Stephen Wesley – Joan of Arc: The Warrior Saint (2003)

Salisbury, Joyce E. – Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World (2001)

Shirley, Glenn – Belle Starr and Her Times: The Literature, the Facts, and the Legends (1982)

Smithsonian Magazine, April 8th, 2019 – How a Spy Known as ‘The Limping Lady’ Helped the Allies Win WWII