Blue plaque tribute to Torquay Second World War heroine Muriel Byck
A BLUE plaque is set to be erected at the former Torquay home of a Jewish heroine of the Second World War.
The plaque, in memory of Special Operations Executive agent Muriel Byck, will be unveiled at Bay Fort Mansions, in Warren Road, where she lived before the war, on June 4, which would have been her 95th birthday.
The money for the historical marker was raised through an appeal by the Turning Point Heritage Trust with the support of Torbay Civic Society.
Trust founder Peter Foreman said: "What courage the dear lady must have had. She was parachuted into enemy-held territory and served with the SOE and French Resistance until her death on May 23, 1944 — just two weeks before the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord on June 6. There were over 400 SOE operatives dropped into France and more than 100 died in action. They gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today."
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When the appeal was launched, the first person to donate was Normandy veteran Ron Horton, who was badly injured when a shell exploded next to him and five friends, killing three of them.
Other contributors included St Michael's Lodge RAOB, Torbay Royal Air Force Association, the local Civil Defence Association and various Jewish organisations.
Muriel served her country in the civil defence and the Women's Auxiliary Air Force before she was taken into the SOE thanks to her ability to speak English, French and Russian.
The SOE was formed to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe, and to aid local resistance movements.
Civic Society chairman Ian Handford, who is in the process of organising the plaque unveiling ceremony, said: "This is yet another amazing story of a member of the SOE and on this occasion a young woman, 25 years of age."
Members of the military and Jewish communities are expected to attend the event from as far afield as London.
It is anticipated that the plaque will read: "Muriel Tamara Byck: British Jewish SOE agent. She was Mentioned in Despatches and she lived at Bay Fort Mansions from 1939 to 1944 when she went abroad with the SOE. She died in active service in France and is buried at Pornic."
At the bottom will be the following phrase in Hebrew: "Be strong and of good courage".