Wartime exploits of British agent with million franc bounty on her head

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The daring wartime exploits of a female British secret agent, who was such a thorn in the German side that they placed a one million franc bounty on her head, are disclosed in secret papers released today.

Pearl Cornioley, who was then known as Cécile Pearl Witherington, became one of the most illustrious members of the Special Operations Executive - set up to foster resistance to the Germans across Europe during the Second World War - after being parachuted into occupied France.

Taking control of 1,500 resistance fighters, she led a number of daring attacks on the Germans and boasted of capturing 18,000 enemy troops.

Documents released by the National Archive at Kew chart her career from raw recruit to the end of the war. She was dropped into France in September 1943, at the age of 29, to act as a courier of coded messages in the Loire.

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