EXCLUSIVE: Reno Resident was Churchill's Number One Spy

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Updated: 11/27/2013 1:53 pm


(KRNV & MyNews4.com) EXCLUSIVE – Reno:

There are many stories of bravery behind the allied forces victory in WW II, but many of the heroes came home and never talked about what they'd gone through.  Such was the case with 91-year-old Max Ciampoli, a former French soldier turned British spy, whose activities during the war were so top secret, if it weren’t for his recent autobiography, no one would ever know the thousands of lives he saved.  Now living in Reno, Elias Johnson sat down with Ciampoli and his wife Linda to talk about his role in the war as Winston Churchill’s top secret agent.

June 22nd, 1940 will forever be remembered in history as the day France lost the war to Axis Powers after a short battle with German forces.

Max Ciampoli - “The general came in, disburse your men, I did, I said go to Africa, England but if you stay here you're going to be taken prisoner.”

The order French lieutenant Max Ciampoli gave to 175 of his men meant he was alone, but had plenty of reasons to fight the Nazi occupation.  As good things have a funny way of arising from bad situations, Max's godfather recalled an English man who had spent several summers staying a few doors from their home.

Linda Ciampoli, Max’s wife said “They're trying to come up with something and his godfather said Churchill is going to be prime minister soon let's call Winston Churchill, do you remember the English gentleman who used to stay a few doors away from here.”

Max said “Send him to England and I’ll take care of it.”

Churchill assigned Ciampoli to be his top agent traveling between Great Britain and France.

Max Ciampoli - “They send you to school to learn how to listen and not to talk. They teach you how to read people with their body language . . . how to strangle people, how to kill them, and also how to withstand torture. Yes, in school they use electrodes to your body, make you learn how to take the pain.”

The training came in hand over the next four years, completing close to 40 successful missions, which including secretly busing 2,000 Jewish children from a camp in Paris to freedom disguised as Germans, and several side missions he simply stumbled upon like the small café owner in a South France village who came to him for help.

Max Ciampoli – “He said, you know I have a problem we have 250 Jews hiding in the woods and we feed them every day.”

A man with a local militia group learned what had been going on and planned to report the café owner and refugees to the Germans.  Max secretly befriended the man and was able to lead him to a nearby sheep stable.

Max Ciampoli – “I had a revolver, a 45 colt and I said say your prayer and if that's what you're going to do, it's not the right thing and I shot him in the head and I put him in the purine, where all the urine goes an it's covered with a boulder.”

There was one time Ciampoli says he wasn't so lucky, captured by German’s after parachuting during one of his final missions.  Tortured for three days he was finally freed after Churchill learned of his capture and sent in an undercover unit disguised as a cleaning crew. Ciampoli was freed by being concealed inside a container of garbage, which to him proved how important he was to the prime minister.

Max Ciampoli – “I miss him now.  He was the father I never had.  What a man, we need one like that now.”

There are many more stories like those inside the Ciampoli's national best-selling book.  It’s featured at the Sundance Bookstore in Reno as well as Barnes and Noble.

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