SOE courier and SSAFA Sister Nicola Trahan MBE: an obituary

12 February 2024

The death at 97 of Orcheston resident Nicola Trahan MBE has saddened many people, but her life – WWII SOE courier, SSAFA Sister, and later a volunteer in Wiltshire for SSAFA – has astounded and fascinated many more.

Born in 1926 to a French mother and a Scots father, Nicola joined the SOE – the Special Operations Executive, tasked by Winston Churchill to “set Europe ablaze” – aged 16 and, a year older, made the first of four insertions via Westland Lysander into Occupied France.

From her wartime record to her later years – which included being a midwife and health visitor for SSAFA from 1958 to 1988, a long-time volunteer not only for SSAFA, but also at Salisbury Cathedral – there is almost too much to put into a brief obituary about Nicola’s long and extraordinary life, a life essentially of service.

Awards – the Croix de Guerre with palm and La Médaille de la Reconnaissance française awarded in 1949 for her work with the French Resistance, while she had to wait considerably longer (until 2017) for her parachute “wings” – followed. Her “SSAFA Sister” nursing career saw her being honoured with an MBE in 1989.

Notices of Nicola Trahan’s death have appeared in The Daily Telegraph and The Salisbury Journal, and on the BBC. Continuing her life of service even after her death, Nicola left her body to science and therefore no funeral will take place, although a memorial service will on March 14 at St Mary’s Church, Orcheston.

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