In 1942 the SOE decided to establish a new network in and around Paris. Called Prosper it was to be led by Francis Suttill. Two French women, Yvonne Rudelatt and Andrée Borrel was parachuted into France to prepare the way for Suttill who arrived on 1st October. A wireless operator, Gilbert Norman arrived in November and a second operator, Jack Agazarian, arrived the following month.
On 22nd January 1943, Henri Déricourt, a former pilot in the French Air Force, arrived back in France. His main task was to find suitable landing grounds and organize receptions for agents brought by air. He worked mainly for the Prosper Network and over the next few months he arranged the transport by plane of over 67 agents.
Jack Agazarian became increasing concerned about the loyalty of Henri Déricourt and after being taken out of France on 16th June, he passed on these fears to Nicholas Bodington and Maurice Buckmaster. However, they were unconvinced and refused to recall Déricourt to Britain.
Francis Suttill arranged with the Special Operations Executive in London to drop arms and explosives to be used by the French Resistance. On 12th June Yvonne Rudelatt was sent to Neuvy to receive the armaments. Several of the containers exploded and several members of the reception committee. A local farmer reported the incident and as a result 500 members of the SS were sent in to search for the special agents in the area.
On 20th June 1943, Rudelatt returned to the area to pick up two new SOE agents, Frank Pickersgill and John Mcalister, who had just been parachuted into France. They were stopped by the SS and although they tried to race away shots were fired and Rudelatt was hit by two bullets before the car crashed. She was arrested and died in Belsen Concentration Camp two weeks before the war ended.
Three days later three other key members of the Prosper Network, Andrée Borrel, Francis Suttill and Gilbert Norman, were arrested by the Gestapo. When Noor Inayat Khan discovered what happened she reported back the disaster to the Special Operations Executive in London.
The three agents were taken to the Gestapo headquarters at 84 Avenue Foch. Francis Suttill was tortured for several days and according to Ernest Vogt he eventually did a deal with the Germans. This included Suttill giving the Germans details of ammunition dumps in exchange for the promise that the people guarding them would not be killed. However, according to another German agent, Joseph Kieffer, it was Gilbert Norman who gave the Gestapo this information.
Messages from the wireless owned by Gilbert Norman were still being sent to the Special Operations Executive in London. Instructions were passed on to Bodington by the SOE to arrange a meeting with Norman at the address he had sent them. Bodington later claimed that he and Agazarian tossed to decide who should visit the address. Agazarian, who was convinced it was a trap, lost, and when he arrived at the address he was immediately arrested.
In the last few months of the war, Gilbert Norman, Francis Suttill, Andrée Borrel, Jack Agazarian and Noor Inayat Khan, were all executed. After the Second World War the interrogation of German officials provided evidence that Henri Déricourt was guilty of providing information to Abwehr and the Gestapo that led to the arrest and execution of several SOE agents including those in the Prosper Network.
In November 1946, Déricourt was arrested by the French authorities but did not appear in court until June 1948. At the trial Nicholas Bodington testified that he had been in charge of all Déricourt's work in the field. He admitted that he was aware that Déricourt was in contact with the Germans but that no important information had been revealed.
During the trial the defence council argued that although the prosecution could bring plenty of suspicious indirect evidence against Henri Déricourt, they could not actually pin any definite act of treachery on him. Largely on the evidence provided by Nicholas Bodington, Déricourt was acquitted.