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The Violette Szabó Mural 10 Years On

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Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Violette Szabó Mural 10 Years On

This mural in Stockwell was unveiled on the 26th June 2001, on what would have been Violette Szabo's 80th birthday. Click to enlarge images.



The mural is part of the Stockwell War Memorial, Stockwell Road. It is painted on the side of a WWII deep level shelter.

It commemorates, Violette Szabo who lived in Stockwell and who was an undercover secret agent for the SOE (Special Operations Executive) in Occupied France during WWII. After undertaking two secret missions, she was captured, tortured and executed in 1945.

Her life was famously dramatised in the film Carve Her Name with Pride, starring Virginia McKenna and  the book of the same name by R. J. Minney. As an agent in the SOE, she was issued with the haunting coded poem The Life That I Have.

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours



The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours



A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause



For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours
And yours


This is not the only memorial to Violette Szabó in London but it is the only one under threat. A decade of sunshine has faded the colours and the paint has started to peel.


London Mural Preservation Society exists to "protect, preserve and celebrate murals in the communities where they were created." There is a link to their feature on this mural here. There is also an opportunity to volunteer or to donate to their work.


For more on the remarkable life of Violette Szabó and her Stockwell connections, see this article from  Stockwell News. For details of her other memorials in London see the excellent London Remembers site here.


The full text of the accompanying accompanying plaque reads:


In Memory of 
Violette Szabó GC
and the
Stockwell Residents
who gave their lives in World War II

Unveiled by Virginia McKenna at a Special Remembrance Service on 26 June 2001, the 80th anniversary of Violette’s birth,. in the presence of Tania Szabó, the Mayor of Lambeth and the Brixton & Stockwell British Legion.

Mural designed & painted by Brian Barnes and Marya Harris, based on designs from pupils at Stockwell Park School.

A Stockwell Partnership project with the Clapham & Stockwell Town Centre Initiative and Transport for London Street Management

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