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Travers was born in Southern England, the daughter of a Royal Navy admiral, but grew up in the south of France, where she was a semi-professional tennis player.At the outbreak of the Second World War, Travers joined the French Red Cross as a nurse, but later became an ambulance driver with the French Expeditionary Force in Finland. With the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, she retreated from Denmark to Finland. She then escaped by ship to Iceland and returned from there to England where she joined General Charles de Gaulle's Free French forces.By 1941, she was the chauffeur for a medical officer of the 13th Demi-Brigade of the French Foreign Legion, during the Syrian campaign in which Vichy French legionnaires fought Free French legionnaires. She was nicknamed "la Miss" by the legionnaires.
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