Violette Bushell lived with her parents in London at the start the second world war. She met a French army officer during that time, and they fell deeply in love. Violette and Etienne were soon married. They knew their time together was limited and precious. They would soon be separated by the demands of war. He wrote her a love poem which she treasured, and which sustained her during their period of separation:
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.
Shortly afterwards Etienne was posted to North Africa with his unit. He was killed in action at El Alamein. ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3).
Violette volunteered her services for the war effort, and because of her language skills she was invited to join the Special Operations Branch and became a British secret agent doing undercover work in France. She was instrumental in the destroying of a particular railway bridge which was of strategic importance to the enemy.
On returning to Britain, she was commended for her bravery and offered another, more dangerous assignment. She hesitated, but thought of her husband who had given his life for the cause of freedom, and she agreed to the mission. She was sent to Limoges to contact the various resistance units and help coordinate their actions.
Violette was captured by the Germans and interrogated mercilessly over a period of time. She refused to give any information of British intentions. She felt to give in would be a betrayal of her husband’s love and sacrifice. Christ stood before Pilate, and ‘He answered him not one word’ (Matthew 27:14).
Violette was put on a train for Germany along with other prisoners. The train was attacked by allied aircraft and she had a chance to escape. But, instead of escaping, she stopped to fetch a cup of water for some of the male prisoners, who were trapped in another wagon. ‘I was thirsty and you gave me a drink’ (Matthew 25:35).
Violette was recaptured and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where she was executed. Love for her husband was the driving force behind her courageous exploits. With little thought for her own life her strength and determination came from her awareness of his sacrifice, and the cause for which he died. In 1946 she was posthumously awarded the George Cross for bravery, presented to her five year old daughter by King George VI. Violette gave her life for the one she loved, so that his death was not in vain.
Violette’s love story is inspiring but is nothing compared to what a certain man from Galilee did.
The life that He lived and the love that He gave is yours, and yours, and yours.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, by Your death You brought life to all who would receive it. I receive it afresh today. Please help me to share it, in Your name. Amen.
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