She was the lover of lan Fleming and Churchill's favourite spy .. the beautiful countess who ran rings round the Gestapo SHE was the very first Bond girl. A stunningly beautiful, lionhearted brunette, a deadly secret agent whose heroism in Nazi-occupied France won her the George Medal, the OBE and Croix de Guerre. With her smoldering dark eyes and captivating personality, men fell at the feet of Christine Granville. One of her many lovers, writer Ian Fleming, was so taken with her that in his first Bond book Casino Royale he immortalized her as Vesper Lynd - played by Eva Green in the recent movie which has just been nominated for nine Baftas. But once the Second World War was over the sexy spy was cruelly cold-shouldered by a nation who owed her so much - before meeting a tragic end at the hands of an obsessed stalker. Her amazing story makes most bestsellers seem tame in comparison. Born Countess Krystyna Skarbek, she fled her native Poland for London when the Nazis invaded in September 1939. Just 21 years old, but already twice married, she convinced the British authorities to take her on as a secret agent. They sent her to Hungary where she was soon battling thick snow across mountains carrying messages and explosives to resistance fighters in Poland, before returning with news of enemy troop movements. Her reports on the German tank build-up allowed Winston Churchill to alert Stalin that the Nazis were about to invade Russia. It was a warning the Communist leader ignored with devastating consequences - but forever after Churchill called Christine his "favourite spy." Such was her impact on the German war effort the Gestapo placed the rookie agent on their most wanted list, posting a £1,000 reward on her head and putting her photograph up at every railway station. But Christine was undeterred and on one especially dangerous trip visited her Jewish mother in occupied Warsaw to beg her to go into hiding. Sadly she refused, and later died in a Nazi death camp. Back in Hungary she began working with - and fell in love with - with Polish army officer Andrzej Kowerski, who later changed his name to Andrew Kennedy. IT was not an easy relationship as men found the beautiful Christine irresistible. She in turn found it hard to remain faithful. A fellow agent described how she possessed "a unique blend of vivacity, flirtatiousness, charm and sheer personality. She could switch that personality on like a searchlight." Such was her voracious sexual appetite the young spy even found time to make love to Andrew when they were on the run from the Germans. When the Hungarian police finally arrested the couple to hand over to the Gestapo, Christine fooled a doctor into believing she had tuberculosis by biting her tongue and faking a bloody coughing fit. They were finally smuggled out of Hungary in the boot of the British ambassador's car, before escaping to Cairo. The ambassador, Sir Owen O'Malley called her: "The bravest person I ever knew. She could do anything with dynamite - except eat it." Back in Britain, Andrew headed off to train parachutists in Italy and Christine joined the newly created Special Operations Executive. In July 1944 she parachuted into southern France to replace an SOE agent who had been executed by the Gestapo. Once more she was plunged into a life of deadly peril, organizing French resistance fighters to blow up bridges and derail trains before the impending Allied invasion. On one occasion she was captured by two German guards at a checkpoint. "Hands up," they ordered. Christine raised her arms to reveal she was holding two hand grenades with their pins removed. "If you shoot, I'll drop them and then we'll all die," she told the Germans. As the soldiers stood terrified, Christine backed away out of sight. Her most famous exploit in France came when she pulled off the rescue of her boss Francis Cammaerts from a Gestapo prison only hours before his execution. Christine brazenly approached the local police chief, claiming to be the niece of Britain's General Montgomery and within hours she had negotiated the release of the four men in return for a staggering two million francs ransom. Christine radioed London for the money which arrived within 24 hours - the fastest drop SOE ever made. After such incredible bravery and resourcefulness she was given the George Medal. But when the war ended, the demand for her special talents dried up. Stranded in Cairo at the time, she was given five months half pay - then dumped. Penniless and unable to return to Soviet-dominated Poland, the war hero asked to become a British citizen. Her application took an age to go through, during which time she was forced to make ends meet working in Harrods. Finally granted citizenship, she applied to work in the British section of the United Nations in Geneva, only to be bluntly told: "You're not really British." One person who still appreciated her heroism was James Bond creator and former wartime Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming. HE confided to a friend "she literally shines with all the qualities and splendors of a fictitious character." The couple enjoyed a year-long affair and Christine became the inspiration for Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. But Christine would never live to see it published. Fleming married his long-term mistress, and once again short of money, the forgotten heroine was forced to take a job as a stewardess on an ocean liner. When the captain ordered the crew to wear their wartime medals, Christine's numerous decorations brought an explosion of jealousy from her colleagues. A bathroom steward, George Muldowney, defended her. But her rescuer soon became obsessed with Christine and back in Britain he began stalking her. Just as she was at her wits' end, she received a message from her former Polish lover Andrew Kennedy, asking her to join him in Brussels to be married. After a farewell meal with friends Christine returned to her cheap London hotel to await her flight. As she climbed the stairs to her room, Muldowney, driven insane by jealousy, was lying in wait. The night porter, hearing Christine cry, rushed up to find Muldowney clasping a bloody knife. Christine lay dead at his feet. It was June 15, 1952 and she was still just 37 years old. Muldowney was tried for murder and hanged while Christine was buried in north west London. The earth placed on her coffin was brought from Poland so she could lie beneath her native soil. Andrew Kennedy never married - and when he died in 1988 his ashes were placed on Christine's grave.