But her most devastating weapon was an ability to charm men, compared by one admirer to ‘a searchlight which could blind anyone in its beam’. Smiling flirtatiously at the uniformed Gestapo officer sitting opposite her, she pointed to the problematic package and ‘confessed’ that it contained black-market tea which she was taking to her sick mother in Warsaw.

If the guards discovered it, she would be in terrible trouble so, she pleaded, might he take pity upon her and place it in his suitcase until the danger had passed?

Full of British propaganda leaflets [...] The beautiful young woman looked coolly around her as the steam train she was travelling on rattled through wartime Poland and armed guards moved from carriage to carriage, carrying out spot-checks on passengers.

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Her real name was Krystyna Skarbek and she was born in Poland in 1908.

The daughter of an impoverished Roman Catholic aristocrat and his Jewish wife, she was expelled from convent school at the age of 14 for setting light to a priest’s cassock as he conducted mass.

She later recalled his fingers unconsciously drumming coded messages on her naked body as he slept.

The insatiable Christine also began a more serious relationship in Hungary with the dashing Andrzej Kowerski, a former Polish army lieutenant.

She proposed travelling to Hungary, which was then still neutral, and from there skiing into occupied Poland.

With her she would take the propaganda materials that would later see her seeking the help of that Gestapo officer on the train.At 28, Francis Cammaerts, one of the SOE’s best agents, had a wife and young children back home in England.He was also eight years Christine’s junior but, during a German bombing raid one night, they became lovers.On hearing about the German invasion, they headed from Africa to London.From there Jerzy continued on to France, where the Polish government-in-exile would soon be established, while Christine, consumed with a reckless spirit of adventure, approached the British secret services with an extraordinary plan.Later, bewitching many men with what one admirer described as her ‘brilliant, brown, arresting eyes’, and another as ‘her crackling vitality’, she spent much time as a young woman in the fashionable ski resort of Zakopane.