Women Of WW1 Mata Hari

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle alias Mata Hari was born in Leeuwarden (NL) on 7 August 1876.

At the beginning of the 20th century she moved to France where she started a career as a nude dancer. She became famous and moved in the highest circles of Europe. Her fame made it easy  to travel to various European countries. Even during the war.   So, the French Secret Service asked Mata Hari to mingle with the Germans and find out as much as she could.

However, during her first mission something went wrong   and she was arrested  by the British Intelligence Service. All of her alibis were watertight, so the British agents had to release her. In the meantime, the French too got suspicious.

It also became clear that German army officers were paying her. Officially it was to keep them company but the French intelligence office wasn’t so sure about that. When she tried to cross the French border, to visit one of her lovers, she was arrested by the French Secret Service and interrogated.

During one of these long sessions, she succumbed and confessed to be a German spy, known under the pseudonym of H21.

The trial that followed was nothing but a showcase. The French were convinced that she was:  “one of the greatest spies of the century,   responsible for the death of tens of thousands of soldiers”. She was found guilty and condemned to death.  On 15 October 1917 she was shot by afiring squad.


Nature v Nurture Letters to nowhere


Image by Truthout.org via Flickr

Nature v Nurture

Imagine a  plant.  I was going to use an orchid but I have a perpetual ability to kill them, so imagine a rose.

Without careful attention to the base of the rose, the soil around the roots and the roots themselves, the rose (unless its a wild rose or a climbing rose – pipe down rose people) will not reach its full potential.

Soldiers in committed (happy!) relationships are not so dissimilar.  So often my other half has told me about a friend arguing furiously with his other half, standing shouting on his mobile outside of their living quarters’ front door.  A lad even went home on a lucrative course that was set to change his life completely – and get him a 20 grand pay rise – purely because his girlfriend made him choose between the new job and his life with her.

The army do not seem, still, to understand that the needs of the girls and women (and men) “outside of the wire” reflect deeply on the men inside the wire.  If they do not reach out and communicate with the partners, the partners feel shut out and alienated, which therefore breeds resentment, thus creating conflict within the relationship, resulting in a soldier with things on his mind when he should be concentrating on work.

Tend the roots, and your flowers will be prize winners.  Neglect them and the neglect will be obvious.

Ways the Army/RAF/Navy could incorporate (and appease) partners:

  • Wife and girlfriend briefings pre-tour (I’m getting one of these though I hear they are v. uncommon!)
  • More social activities behind the wire – at the moment, only married quarter-dwelling wives are invited to social events at the barracks.  Invitations should be open to all officially declared partners.
  • Regular contact – even if it is just emails detailing where partners are / will be (a timetable perhaps)
  • Help and details of someone who can be contacted should we notice symptoms of PTSD in our partners

I am sure there are many more….  feel free to add your own

Credits to Letters to Nowhere for writing this blog post.

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