LIKE most 82 year olds, Sigrid Green appears to live a simple life at home in Darwen with her companion and dog, Barney, and is no longer in the best of health.

But the Richmond Terrace resident, known as Gusta to friends, is preparing to get sidelong glances as she walks the streets near her home, after revealing to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph she worked as an undercover agent in occupied Norway during the Second World War.

Gusta, whose mother was Norwegian, was born and brought up in a bilingual household in the Bold Venture area of Darwen and has lived in the town for most of her adult life.

Her parents and two brothers, one of whom was an RAF pilot, all died without ever knowing the truth about her wartime experiences, which she has decided to reveal after seeing a documentary about undercover agents in France.

Since the war, she has worked as an administrator at Queen's Park Hospital, been active in the local Conservative Party and done volunteer work for the WRVS, without telling details of her experiences to any but her closest friends.

Gusta said: "When war broke out I was studying in Manchester for an English degree. I wanted to work as a wireless operator, so my father paid for me to train.

"When I started in the Air Ministry and they found out about my background I was called to London and asked if I would be prepared to go to Norway.

"The only bit I couldn't do was the parachute training, because I had terrible vertigo. I thought that would be the end of it, but I had to travel in a submarine.

"My first job was to help with attempts to secure routes for Russian convoys which were being targeted. Later I had to liaise with the Norwegian underground resistance, which was very badly organised.

"It was not the kind of job where you made many friends. That was where trouble would have started. Nobody ever knew very much.

"I was just sent off with a suitcase of used clothes. Luckily I escaped totally unscathed, physically. Lots of others didn't."

After stints in Norway, Gusta went to work at Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes, where the famous Enigma decoder was based. She typed coded messages from German Morse code telegraphy, which were passed to decoders to translate.

She said: "It wasn't how they paint it at all, with all this romance. I never even knew I was listening to the German High Command. It was the most boring job I've ever done."

Gusta says she is glad to have had her experiences, though she would prefer the war had never happened.

She said: "There are some parts of my experiences which are best left buried that I will never talk about. I learnt the meaning of the phrase man's inhumanity towards man.

"I understand why a lot of young people aren't interested in the war - I used to think stories about the Second World War were boring.

"But if knowing about it can stop it happening again, with the terrible acts and degradation, it's worth it.

"I'm certainly no one's hero and it's silly to think of it that way. During the war thousands of people did extraordinary things they never dreamed they could do. Some more than others, but that's life."