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Europe

Churchill's French saboteur "Bob" Maloutier dies at 92

media Allied troops land at Arromanches in Normandy on D-Day 1944 Steck/MPI/Getty Images

A French secret agent who was a sabotage specialist for Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II has died at the age of 92. Robert "Bob" Maloutier also set up the French military's diving unit and helped design the world's first diving watch.

Maloutier, known as "Bob" to his British handlers, died late on Monday, his wife Marie-Hélène France said on Tuesday.

twice parachuted into Nazi-occupied France, once to try to convince the Germans that the D-Day landings would take place at Calais and not on the Normandy beaches.

He was recruited to the SOE, which carried out sabotage and spying missions during the war, while trying to reach London from Algiers at the age of 19.

After the war he joined the French secret service and helped form the military's specialists diving unit in 1952.

With a colleague he helped the first-ever diving watch for Swiss company Blancpain, the Fifty Fathoms, which became the official timepiece of the US Navy Seals.

Maloubier went on to work in Africa, as a forest ranger in Gabon, for oil company Shell in Nigeria and for Gabon's leader Léon M'ba, helping train his presidential guard.

Maloubier was one of the last two surviving Frenchmen to have been awarded Britain's Distinguished Service Order, which he received personally from King George VI at the end of the war.

He was made a member of the Order of the British Empire when Queen Elizabeth II visited Paris last year for the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

 

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