Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Inaugural Monaco GP Winner" William Grover-Williams Dies - March 18, 1945

January 16, 1903 - March 18, 1945
William Grover-Williams
(Photo; bugattirevue.com)
Born in Montrouge, Hauts-de-Seine, France.
He was a Grand Prix motor racing driver and special agent who worked for the Special Operations Executive inside France. He organized and coordinated the Chestnut network. He was captured and killed by the Nazis.

Mechanically inclined, and fascinated by motorized vehicles, at the age of 15, Grover-Williams acquired an Indian motorcycle and it became his pride and joy. He would later go on to compete in motorcycle races in the early 1920s, although he kept it secret from his family by adopting the using the alias "W Williams".

By 1926, Grover-Williams had begun racing a Bugatti in races throughout France, using the alias "W Williams", entering the Grand Prix de Provence at Miramas and the Monte Carlo Rally. In 1928, he won the French Grand Prix, repeating in 1929. That same year, driving a Bugatti 35B, painted in what would become known as "British racing green", he won the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix beating the heavily favored Mercedes of the great German driver, Rudolf Caracciola. In 1931 he won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. He also won the Grand Prix de la Baule three consecutive years, 1931 to 1933. Then his career waned and he was out of racing by the latter part of the 1930s.

Following the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, Grover-Williams fled to England where he joined the Royal Army Service Corps. Due to his fluency in French and English he was recruited into the Special Operations Executive to foster the French Resistance. He recruited fellow racing driver Robert Benoist and together they worked in the Paris region to build up a successful circuit of operatives, forming sabotage cells and reception committees for Allied parachute operations.

On August 2, 1943, Grover-Williams was arrested by the SD and underwent lengthy interrogation before being deported to Berlin and was then held prisoner in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Grover-Williams was executed at Sachsenhausen concentration camp on March 18, 1945, however there is a theory that Grover-Williams may have survived the war, and lived on under an assumed identity as "Georges Tambal" who allegedly lived with Grover-Williams' widow for many years.

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