Appeal for strangers to attend funeral of WW2 courier

St Mary Magdalene's Church in Sea Road. Image: Google
St Mary Magdalene's Church in Sea Road. Image: Google

Stangers are being invited to pay respects to a Bexhill woman who risked her life to aid the French resistance during the Second World War.

Valentine Barlow, known to her friends as Valerie, died aged 93 on October 13 this year. With no surviving family and few surviving contemporaries, Valerie's friend Angela Franklin has appealed for strangers to attend her funeral this Thursday (November 9) in order to pay honour to the woman she describes as being 'full of laughter'.

According to Angela, Valerie was just 14-years-old when she joined the war effort in occupied France, risking her life by working for the resistance.

The daughter of an RAF pilot, English-born Valerie was educated in a French convent and was living there when the war broke out. Speaking fluent French as well as English she soon offered her skills as a translator and also worked as a courier passing messages between various groups.

Angela says Valerie rarely spoke of her experiences during war and only let slip a few details of her life during that time. Angela said: "Like a lot of people of her generation she wasn't open about the war. She was never boastful. She saw it as her duty and that virtue was its own reward.

"She was somebody who could act as a go-between various groups. She looked like she was taking groceries from A to B. Of course she always had something else with her as well. She must have been at terrible risk. She was so young."

After the war, Angela says, Valerie began working as a translator at the Foreign Office, where she spent much of her career. Later in life she moved back to France where she lived until the early 1990s recession. It was then that she moved to Bexhill.

Angela, who met Valerie shortly after she had moved to the town, said: "On first impression she was a very quiet, lovely lady, but when you got to know her she was full of laughter.

"She was a very cultured and very, very intelligent lady. All the time she was here, she kept up with all the news. She always had something witty to say about what was going in the world.

"She was just a very lovely old lady."

Anyone wishing to attend Valerie's funeral is invited to attend her funeral at St Mary Magdalene's in Sea Road. The service begins at noon on Thursday, November 9.