Memorable Manitobans: Kathleen Moore “Kay” Gimpel (1914-2009)
Born at Strathcona, Alberta on 2 January 1914, daughter of Katherine Helen Chapman (1879-1930) and journalist Harold Henry Moore, after high school she attended the University of Manitoba where she studied French and was friends with Frank Pickersgill. On graduation, she received a scholarship to study at The Sorbonne in Paris. After finishing there, she stayed in Parsi to work at the British embassy. She was evacuated to England when Germany invaded France in May 1940.
Known as a high-spirited and independent-minded woman, during the Second World War she worked for a branch of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in London, supporting and liaising with spies behind enemy lines in Europe. She eventually moved to the Air Liaison, becoming the only woman to head this unit that supplied weapons and supplies to resistance workers in occupied Europe.
After the war, she married resistance fighter Charles Gimpel (1913-1973), who she had met through her wartime work, and they subsequently had two sons. They, along with Charles' brother Peter, operated the art gallery Gimpel Fils in London. The gallery was one of the first to feature Inuit art in a London exhibition in 1953.
She died at Chelsea, London, England on 19 March 2009.
“Fearless secret service agent aided scores of Resisters,” The Globe and Mail, 4 April 2009. [Internet Archive, 9 April 2009]
We thank James Arnett for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 January 2023