A FORMER spy who parachuted into Nazi occupied Europe behind enemy lines during World War Two dressed as a nun has died aged 94.
Margaret Spencer, who was a long time resident of Westham, near Eastbourne, was captured by the German Gestapo during the war and in a separate incident shot in the back by a sniper.
However, she was unable to tell anyone of her heroics until she was 77 after signing the Official Secrets Act.
After leaving the Secret Intelligence Service – later known as MI6 – she lived in Westham where she worked as a community nurse and midwife – with the bullet still lodged near her spine.
She was recruited at the start of the war, given a pistol and instructed to round up German spies and Communists along the south coast.
She did all this while she was still working as a nurse.
She was also involved in operations in occupied Europe and was once parachuted in dressed as a nun.
During one of her daring missions she was captured by the brutal Nazi secret police – the Gestapo.
She was also shot by a German sniper and she remarkably lived the rest of her life with the bullet lodged in her back.
Following the war she was forced to keep her experiences a secret and was only allowed to reveal her heroics – and hand back her gun – at the age of 77.
She had lived in Willoughby Court, Eastbourne with her husband Len, before later moving to Westham.
There she was a popular member of the community as choirmaster at St Mary’s Church. She was also a keen member of the local history group and an active member of the church.
Among those paying tribute was Jill Parsons, of nearby Stone Cross.
She described Mrs Spencer as a “wonderful woman” adding: “She was well known in the community and very popular.
“She came to our local group a few years ago and told us about her time in the war. She wasn’t one to show off about what she did. She was incredible.”
“She lived here for a long time.
I’ve been here for 30 years and she was here before me.”
Alison Hillman, clerk at Westham Parish Council, said: “She would speak to the children about her stories, she was a real inspiration to them.”
She died on June 23 and her funeral was held at St Mary’s Church in Westham on Saturday July 12.
Pay your tributes to Mrs Spencer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.