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Jack Agazarian

Jack Agazarian was born in London in 1916. His father was Armenian and his mother French and he was educated at schools in France and England. On the outbreak of the Second World War Agazarian joined he British Army and was later transferred to the Special Operations Executive (SOE). In 1942 the SOE decided to establish a new network in and around Paris. Called Prosper it was to be led by Francis Suttill. On 24th September 1942, Andrée Borrel was parachuted into France to prepare the way for Suttill who arrived on 1st October. A wireless operator, Gilbert Norman arrived in November and a second operator, Agazarian, arrived the following month. On 22nd January 1943, Henri Déricourt, a former pilot in the French Air Force, arrived back in France. His main task was to find suitable landing grounds and organize receptions for agents brought by air. He worked mainly for the Prosper Network and over the next few months he arranged the transport by plane of over 67 agents. Agazarian, who had been joined by his wife, Francine Agazarian, became increasing concerned about the loyalty of Henri Déricourt and after being taken out of France on 16th June, he passed on these fears to Nicholas Bodington and Maurice Buckmaster. However, they were unconvinced and refused to recall Déricourt to Britain. On 23rd June 1943, the Gestapo arrested three key members of the Prosper Network, Andrée Borrel, Francis Suttill and Gilbert Norman. Noor Inayat Khan reported back to the Special Operations Executive that she had lost contact with the rest of the group and feared they were in the hands of the Germans. Gilbert Norman continued to send messages to London. Leo Marks, head of codes and ciphers at Special Operations Executive (SOE), was convinced that Norman was under the control of the Gestapo. Major Nicholas Bodington disagreed and persuaded Maurice Buckmaster to let him go to France to find out what had happened. Agazarian was recalled from leave and the two men were taken to France on 22nd July. Messages from the wireless owned by Gilbert Norman continued to be sent to London. Instructions were passed on to Bodington by Maurice Buckmaster to arrange a meeting with Norman at the address he had sent them. Bodington later claimed that he and Agazarian tossed to decide who should visit the address. Agazarian, who was convinced it was a trap, lost, and when he arrived at the address he was immediately arrested. The Gestapo tortured Agazarian for six months at Fresnes Prison before being sent to Flossenburg where he was kept in solitary confinement. On 29th March 1945, the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) executed Jack Agazarian and twelve other Allied officers. He was constantly sought by the Gestapo, narrowly escaping arrest on several occasions, but he continued his activities until June 1943, when he was forced to leave France as he had become so badly compromised. He returned the following month, having volunteered to work with another circuit and, although the Gestapo had a photograph of him, he continued to act as a W/T operator.

A few weeks after his arrival, Flt Agazarian volunteered to go to a rendezvous on behalf of his chief, knowing that it might be a trap. He was arrested on his arrival there and imprisoned at Fresnes. Later he was sent to Germany. Throughout his period of activity he displayed great courage and devotion to duty, in face of constant danger.

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