Elaine Plewman (1917-1944)
(Photo: Wikipedia)

Probably a visitor to 8 Stoneygate Avenue when it was the home of her future brother- and sister-in-law and the temporary home of her future husband, Tom.

Born and educated in Marseille, Eliane Plewman came to England in 1936 with her Spanish mother Elisa and brothers Henry and Albert. Her mother had separated from her British businessman father, Eugene, and was deterred from returning to Spain by the outbreak of civil war.

It’s unclear why Elisa and the children chose Leicester but it may have been due to family business contacts. In 1936 the League of Nations Bureau of Statistics described Leicester as the second richest city in Europe and it was becoming an attractive destination for refugees fleeing persecution (in Germany and elsewhere).

Supported by an uncle who has a factory in Spain, Eliane lived with her mother and brothers in a small rented house at 30 Parkland Drive in Oadby (off Stoughton Drive, near the BP petrol station). Her mother worked as a seamstress, Albert studied chemical engineering and Eliane worked as a translator for a firm exporting clothing and fabric, George Odom Ltd, based in Albion Street This is perhaps where she first met her future husband Tom whose family had a leather business in Albion Street.

When WWII broke out, mother Elisa returned to Madrid and Albert followed to work for a Spanish branch of the paint manufacturer he had been employed by in Newcastle. Eliane was left alone in Leicester for a short period (perhaps two or three weeks) and then she, too, returned to Spain where she worked for the British Embassy in Madrid and Lisbon as a translator.

Albert came back to Britain in 1941 to join the RAF. Eliane returned in 1942 and worked for the Ministry of Information in London. In July 1942 she and Tom (who was by then a Captain in the Royal Artillery) married in Kensington and set up home at 14 Queens Gate Terrace. Eliane seems to have been recruited by SOE in Feb 1943.

Eliane Plewman underwent training and in August 1943 she was parachuted into occupied France.