Nowadays people look at the likes of Beyoncé,Lady GaGa,Rihanna,etc and think Girl power.
Now,Nancy Wake that was Girl power , the real deal and thank god she was on our side.
“I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas.”
Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC, GM (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011) served as a British Special Operations Executive agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies’ most decorated servicewomen of the war.
After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head.
After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. On the night of 29/30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into occupied France Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 themselves.
Nancy Wake was a hard-drinking, hard-fighting World War II special agent, saboteur, and resistance commander who survived four days of Gestapo interrogation, saved over two hundred downed Allied pilots from falling into the clutches of the Nazi penal system, blew up a couple German supply depots, had a bounty of five million Francs placed on her head, and then killed an SS stormtrooper with her bare hands by apparently dishing out a judo chop to the throat.
Born to a poor family in New Zealand in 1912, Nancy Wake’s family moved her to Australia at the age of two. Then her dad promptly abandoned Nancy, her mom, and her five brothers and sisters. Growing up in poverty, Wake left home at 16 to go work as a nurse in Sydney, then at 20 she moved to London with about $300 in her pocket to try and make a new life. By 22 this globetrotting Aussie/Kiwi was living in Paris, working as a freelance newspaper journalist.
In 1933, Wake’s newspaper assignment took her to Vienna to do a story on the new German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, so she headed out to see what the big deal was. Wake interviewed Hitler, got the official party line, and then watched as gangs of Nazi thugs roamed the streets of Vienna beating up Jewish men and women for no good reason. Wake, horrified by what she was seeing, vowed to oppose this Hitler fellow at any opportunity.
In 1937, Wake met wealthy French industrialist Henri Edmond Fiocca (1898–1943), whom she married on 30 November 1939. She was living in Marseille, France when Germany invaded. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. In reference to Wake’s ability to elude capture, the Gestapo called her the White Mouse. The Resistance exercised caution with her missions; her life was in constant danger, with the Gestapo tapping her phone and intercepting her mail.
In November 1942, Wehrmacht troops occupied the southern part of France after the Allies’ Operation Torch had started(the British-American invasion of French North Africa).
.This gave the Gestapo unrestricted access to all papers of the Vichy régime and made life more dangerous for Wake. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head. When the network was betrayed that same year, she decided to flee Marseille. Her husband, Henri Fiocca, stayed behind; he was later captured, tortured and executed by the Gestapo.Wake described her tactics: “A little powder and a little drink on the way, and I’d pass their (German) posts and wink and say, ‘Do you want to search me?’ God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was.”
According to her fake French ID her name was Lucienne Carlier.
Finally, in 1943, the Germans started to figure out who The White Mouse really was, and planned to arrest her. Luckily for Ms. Wake, the British spymasters intercepted the Gestapo communication ordering her arrest, and were able to relay a “get out” message to Nancy before Nazis knocked on her front door. Wake ran for it, made a break for the Pyrenees, and then, despite leaping from a moving train to evade them, she was shot at and captured by the Germans and hauled off to the local Gestapo police station.
They tortured her for four days. An acquaintance managed to have her let out by making up stories about her supposed infidelity to her husband. She succeeded, on her sixth attempt, in crossing the Pyrenees to Spain, and from there she managed to get to Britain.
After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. Vera Atkins , who also worked in the SOE, recalls her as “a real Australian bombshell. Tremendous vitality, flashing eyes. Everything she did, she did well.” Training reports record that she was “a very good and fast shot” and possessed excellent fieldcraft. She was noted to “put the men to shame by her cheerful spirit and strength of character.
On the night of 29/30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, Captain Tardivat greeted her remarking, “I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year,” to which she replied, “Don’t give me that French shit.” Her duties included allocating arms and equipment that were parachuted in and minding the group’s finances. Wake became instrumental in recruiting more members and making the maquis groups into a formidable force, roughly 7,500 strong. She also led attacks on German installations and the local Gestapo HQ in Montluçon. At one point Wake discovered that her men were protecting a girl who was a German spy. They did not have the heart to kill her in cold blood, but when Wake insisted she would perform the execution, they capitulated.
From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 themselves. Her French companions, especially Henri Tardivat, praised her fighting spirit, amply demonstrated when she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm during a raid. During a 1990s television interview, when asked what had happened to the sentry who spotted her, Wake simply drew her finger across her throat. “They’d taught this judo-chop stuff with the flat of the hand at SOE, and I practised away at it. But this was the only time I used it – whack – and it killed him all right. I was really surprised.”
On another occasion, to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a German raid, Wake rode a bicycle for more than 500 kilometres (310 mi) through several German checkpoints.
At the head of a group of dedicated, gun-toting Frenchmen, Nancy Wake spent most of 1944 – both before and after D-Day – leading daring guerilla attacks on Nazi supply depots, rail stations, and communications facilities deep behind enemy lines. She sabotaged factories, raided depots, cut train tracks, and performed countless espionage and sabotage missions against the enemy. In another attack she and some Maquis fighters rolled up to the local Gestapo headquarters in Montlucon, France, shot the place up, lobbed some grenades, and killed 38 members of the Reich’s notorious secret police.
When enemy spies were captured, Wake was the one who interrogated them and determined whether they would live or die. When supply drops were parachuted behind enemy lines by Allied transport planes, Wake was the one who received the coordinates, made sure guys were there to pick up the gear, and distributed it to the men. On yet another occasion, Wake took command of a battle after her section leader died, then coordinated a strategic withdrawal that got her men out of a hardcore shootout with SS storm troopers without taking any further casualties.
Immediately after the war, Wake was awarded the George Medal, the United States Medal of Freedom, the Médaille de la Résistance, and thrice the Croix de Guerre.
She learned that the Gestapo had tortured her husband to death in 1943 for refusing to disclose her whereabouts. After the war, she worked for the Intelligence Department at the British Air Ministry attached to embassies in Paris and Prague.Being unable to adapt to life in post-war Europe, she returned to Australia in January 1949 aged 37. Shortly afterwards she ran for the Liberal Party against Labor’s ‘Doc’ Evatt and, having been narrowly defeated, made a second attempt in 1951, again unsuccessfully.
Unsatisfied with life in Australia, Wake returned to England. In 1957 she married John Forward, an RAF officer. The couple returned to Australia in 1959. A third attempt to enter politics also failed and she and Forward ultimately retired to Port Macquarie where they lived until his death in 1997. In December 2001 she left Australia for England where she lived out her remaining years.
Wake was appointed a Chevalier (knight) of the Legion of Honour in 1970 and was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honour in 1988.
Initially, she refused offers of decorations from Australia, saying: “The last time there was a suggestion of that I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts. The thing is if they gave me a medal now, it wouldn’t be love so I don’t want anything from them.” It was not until February 2004 that Wake was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.
In April 2006, she was awarded the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association’s highest honour,the RSA Badge in Gold. Wake’s medals are on display in the Second World War gallery at the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra
On 3 June 2010, a “heritage pylon” paying tribute to Wake was unveiled on Oriental Parade in Wellington, New Zealand, near the place of her birth.
Seasons 1 and 2 of the 1980s British television series Wish Me Luck were based on her exploits and much of the dialogue was copied from her autobiography.
Wake’s story was told in a 1987 television movie, Nancy Wake, released as True Colors in the US. She was played by Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst.
Wake criticized the way in which the film portrayed her, for instance as cooking breakfast for the men or as being romantically involved with another resistance member.
Sebastian Faulks’s 1999 novel Charlotte Gray is thought to be based on Wake’s war-time exploits,[ as well as those of Pearl Cornioley, a British secret-service agent.
The pictures below were taken at the premiere of Charlotte Gray at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square in 2002.
Rachael Blampied portrayed Nancy Wake in the TVNZ docu-drama Nancy Wake: The White Mouse.
Wake died on Sunday evening 7 August 2011, aged 98, at Kingston Hospital after being admitted with a chest infection. She had requested that her ashes be scattered at Montluçon in central France. Her ashes were scattered near the village of Verneix, which is near Montluçon, on 11 March 2013.
Nancy Wake a true hero, we salute you.
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