GEORGES BEGUE, who has died at Falls Church, Virginia, aged 82, was the first Special Operations Executive agent to be successfully dropped into France for clandestine operations after the German invasion of 1940.
    More than 400 SOE agents of Colonel Maurice Buckmaster's F Section (including 39 women) were to follow him into the field. Bégué, under his nom de guerre of George Noble, set them an outstanding example by his resolve and resourcefulness.
    He had none of the advantages of the smaller radio sets introduced later in the war, and had to do his own repairs without suitable spare parts. On one occasion, with the help of a sympathetic French guard, he
even contrived to transmit from Vichy concentration camp at Mauzac.
    Bégué was sprung from captivity by a ruse involving duplicate keys. The daring operation was led in part by Virginia Hall, a one-legged New York Post Paris correspondent known in resistance circles as "Marie of Lyon".
    Georges Pierre André Bégué was born in the Dordogne on Nov 22 1911. Educated as an engineer, he was also a wireless enthusiast. When war came in September 1939 he was working in the sales department of Simca; as a reserve office he was sent to the Maginot Line, much to his disappointment. His spirits lifted when his knowledge of
English led to a liaison job with the British Expeditionary Force.
    As France was overrun Bégué crossed the Channel from Dunkirk and made himself known to Gen. de Gaulle's headquarters in London.
    Unimpressed by what he found there, he declined to sign an oath of allegiance to the general and enlisted as a private in the Royal Corps of Signals.
    His radio knowledge was noted, and shortly afterwards he was interviewed for SOE.
    As the first "pianist" (as radio operators were termed), he was dubbed "George I". With his bulky set and ration cards which turned out to be invalid he landed in a ploughed field near Valencay on the night of May 5 1941.
    A maid at a nearby hotel gave him some bread coupons, and he then called on Max Hymans, a former local deputy, who helped to set up his transmitter. In October he was arrested at Marseille by the Vichy French and after solitary confinement in the prison at Périgueux was moved to Mauzac.
    After his escape Bégué crossed the Pyrenees and reached London, where his experience was considered of such importance that he was appointed F Section's signals officer.
    Bégué was appointed MBE (Military) and also to the Légion d'Honneur.
    He was married, and had a son and two daughters.