Henrietta “Chetta” Chevalier

Photo added by Eman Bonnici

Henrietta “Chetta” Chevalier

Birth
Sliema, Northern Harbour, Malta
Death 7 Jul 1973 (aged 72)
Malta
Burial Paola, Southern Harbour, Malta
Memorial ID 91898096 · View Source
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Heroic Figure. Sliema born Henrietta Chevalier, known to everyone as "Chetta", was the daughter of Emmanuel Scerri and Maria Mamo. Marrying Thomas Chevalier on May 15, 1920 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish church in Sliema, the couple settled in Rome where Thomas served as a representative of Thomas Cook & Son. With Thomas passing away there slightly before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the family found itself unable to leave Italy, especially after one of the sons was imprisoned as soon as Italy entered the war due to being a British subject. Another son, Paul, avoided imprisonment due to his role as a clerical officer with the Swiss Legation having thus diplomatic papers. The youngest daughter was sent to a convent while Henrietta, her elderly mother and her five other daughters lived in a small third floor apartment at via Imperia. In the meantime, an Irish Catholic priest, Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, a senior official of the Roman Curia, who eventually became responsible for saving some 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews, nicknamed "the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican" for his ability, sought the help of priests, nuns and lay people to work in secret with him, hiding refugees in their own private homes and convents around Rome. These included British Major Sam Derry and a number of Maltese: Augustinian Fathers, Egidio Galea, Aurelio Borg, Ugolino Gatt; Bro. Robert Pace of the Brothers of Christian Schools and Chetta, who hid refugees in her house with her children and was lucky to escape detection, playing a huge role in the organisation. Mrs. Chevalier showed tremendous courage, constantly taking risks, which if found out would have resulted in her execution together with her family. At one point in time she had four British soldiers staying with her and when asked by the Major about the risks here comment was: "They are absolutely grand, these boys. They are just like my own children. It is all so marvellous". O'Flaherty warned everyone lodging with her that in the event of any danger, her safety and that of her family had to come first. Her flat was used as a depot for food and supplies, which was risky as the movement of black bags could easily arouse suspicion. Eventually the Gestapo suspected the Chevalier household and had it watched around the clock as well as conducting a number of raids but each time the lodgers managed to escape on time due to a system of tip offs. The daughter Gemma had a very narrow escape on one occasion while buying supplies, which she kept from her mother. Despite the close escapes and the warnings, Chetta always wanted the lodgers back. Having also had some nursing experience, she used to venture out and provide medical assistance to various escapees around the city with Milko Scofic, a Yugoslavian. She made everyone feel welcome: "at Christmas she served brandy instead of tea, Christmas gifts were exchanged among the family and the three British lodgers". Eventually it was felt that Mrs. Chevalier and her family due to the close scrutiny should be evacuated and one by one they left and were brought to a farm on the outskirts of the city. Escaped POW Lieutenant Furman recalls of Mrs. Chevalier: "What can be said of this incredible woman, who I guessed to be in her early forties? I would not call her brave for it seemed to be she had no conception of fear. Her kindness and generosity were unparalleled, her maternal spirit and compassion boundless". All organization members held code names. Mrs. Chevalier was known as "Mrs M.", Br. Robert Pace "Whitebows", Father Galea "Sailor" and Father Borg "Grobb". Awarded a British Empire Medal, Chetta passed away in her native Malta on September 7, 1973 and is buried at the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery.


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  • Created by: Eman Bonnici
  • Added: 13 Jun 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 91898096
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henrietta “Chetta” Chevalier (2 Apr 1901–7 Jul 1973), Find A Grave Memorial no. 91898096, citing Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery, Paola, Southern Harbour, Malta ; Maintained by Eman Bonnici (contributor 46572312) .