Violette Szabo Memorial Mural
Partially occluded by works, and now stranded in the middle of Stockwell roundabout sits the Stockwell War Memorial and Memorial Mural. It caught my eye as I was heading down to Brighton for the day.
The monument was erected in 1922 to a design by architect Frank Twydals Dear. The mural was painted in from 1999-2001 on the top part of a deep level 'pillbox' shelter built during the Second World War (WWII 1939-1945).
A mural of many stories
The work began in 1999 by Brian Barnes and Myra Harris. They created the first part of the design based on ideas from the children of Stockwell Park School. The images depict figures from local history. It includes Roger Moore as James Bond (Moore grew up in Stockwell), artist Vincent Van Gogh (who lived in Stockwell for six months), and the MV Empire Windrush ship (many of those arriving on this boat settled in Stockwell).
In 2001, the second half of the mural was painted. It represents figures from WWII, including the beautiful Violette Szabo.
Violette Szabo's story
Szabo's story is one of humble beginnings, romance, crime, bravery and ultimately tragedy. She was a spy - an undercover secret agent for SOE (Special Operations Executive) in France during WWII.
Nee Bushell, Violette married Etienne Szabó after meeting at Bastille Day in London in 1940. Etienne was a career legionnaire who led his men from the front with formidable courage in Norway, Bir Hakeim and El Alamein among orther battles. On 24 October 1942 (the smae year their daughter, Tania, was born) he was killed leading his men at El Himeimat, south of El Alamein.
Aged just 23, Violette Szabo was captured by Germans in France in May 1944. Szabo was interrogated, tortured and deported to Germany to be eventually executed at Ravensbruck concentration camp.
She was known for her warmth and good spirit, even after her arrest and during imprisonment. Her statue and story, sitting on the South side of the River near Archbishop's park, features in our London's Power Women tour.
*Lieutenant Violette Szabó, George Cross, Croix de Guerre with Star, Médaille de la Résistance,
**Etienne Szabó, Légion d'Honneur, Médaille Militaire, Croix de Guerre with Star and Palm, Colonial Medal,