The Most Successful World War II Spy, Almost Kept From Serving America

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In recent times, the CIA hailed Virginia hall as the most successful American female spy in World War II. This extraordinary woman has now been declared as a devoted officer and an unqualified war heroine.

Virginia Hall
Virginia Hall. Photo by Apic/Getty Images

Virginia has also been given a citation on the OSS catalog in the CIA museum. What’s more, she also has a training building named after her. But this incredible woman’s life has been riddled with misunderstandings and prejudice right up to her retirement.

A Tragic Hunting Accident

Virginia lost her left leg permanently in a hunting accident at the mere age of 27. She then had to survive on a wooden prosthetic leg. From then onwards, Virginia’s amputee status proved to be the bane of her existence.

Virginia Hall receiving the Distinguished Service Cross
Virginia Hall is receiving the Distinguished Service Cross in 1945 from OSS chief General Donovan. Source: Wikipedia

It did not matter that she was born to a wealthy family. Nor did it matter that she had an immense command over languages and possessed an array of knowledge regarding Europe like no one else her age. Her dreams were constantly thwarted because of her wooden leg.

Dreaming to Become an Ambassador

Virginia knew exactly what she wanted to become in the future – UN ambassador for America. But the State Department was going to become one of her biggest obstacles on this journey.

Virginia Hall

Not only did the officials at the State Department discriminate against women, but they also hampered her journey merely because she was an amputee.

Itching to Get Into Action

As the war loomed closer in 1939, Virginia Hall decided to quit her job as a clerk (a job that she had taken out when she was not allowed to become ambassador) and offer her services for the French army. She began driving ambulances until France capitulated.

painting of World War II spy Virginia Hall
Painting of World War II spy Virginia Hall. Source:

Virginia then decided to head to Britain to try her luck there. This was when she was drafted into a new secret service that Winston Churchill set up to spy and sabotage the German war efforts.

An Amazingly Successful Career

Virginia did not escape discrimination even in the British government. But her brilliant success as a spy for the Allies turned things around. She became the only female to elude the Gestapo for longer than any of her male counterparts.

Virginia Hall's driver's license, the 1930s.
Virginia Hall’s driver’s license, the 1930s. Source:

Not only this, but Virginia was also the mastermind behind some amazing jailbreaks for captured agents. Virginia’s incredible success continued even when she switched over to the American counterpart of the secret agency, the OSS. This extraordinary woman was able to rewrite the entire history of women in combat all by herself.