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The Strange Case of the Motor Racing Secret Agent

24 May 2012

Sky Sports have been filming at Brookwood Military Cemetery - the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the United Kingdom - to cover the story of British secret agent who was the first winner of the Monaco Grand Prix.

William Grover-Williams - born in France to an English father and French mother - was working with the French resistance when he was captured by the Nazis during the Second World War. He was executed in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Or was he?

Grover-Williams was one of the most successful racing drivers of the late 20s and early 30s. In 1929 he won the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix, driving a Bugatti, painted in the colour that went on to become known as British Racing Green.

During the Second World War, with his fluent French, Grover-Williams was recruited into the Special Operations Executive to work with French resistance.  For years the official accounts said he was arrested by the Nazis in 1943, and underwent protracted interrogation before being killed at Sachsenhausen in the Spring of 1945.    

But British government documents released in 2003 suggest Grover-Williams may have survived the war. It's been suggested that the cousin of Grover-Williams's widow, who lived with her for years after the war, might in fact have been Grover-Williams himself.

On the weekend of the this year's Monaco Grand Prix, 83 years on from Grover-Williams's first triumph, Sky Sports's reporter Simon Lazenby has been looking at the story. His report is being shown in Saturday's  Qualifying programme.

And for the record: Captain William Charles Frederick Grover-Williams, attached from the General List to the Special Operations Executive, holder of the Croix de Guerre, is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial - Panel 21, Column 3.

Click here to watch a clip of Grover-Williams winning the first Monaco Grand Prix.

Image courtesy of Bibliotheque nationale de France