AKA -The White Mouse
Born in New Zealand Nancy relocated to Sydney, Australia, as a child along with the rest of her family. She trained as a nurse and a journalist and moved to Paris in the 1930’s.
When World War 2 commenced she was living in Marseille with her French husband. When France fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, Wake became a courier for an established escape network where she helped Allied airmen evade capture by the Germans and escape to Spain which was neutral. She herself fled to Spain in 1943 and continued on to the United Kingdom when the Germans became aware of her activities, calling her The White Mouse. Her husband was captured and executed.
In Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) under the code name”Helene”. In April 1944 as a member of a three-person SOE team code-named “Freelance”, she parachuted into occupied France to liaise between the SOE and several Maquis groups, participating in a battle between the Maquis and a large German force weeks later. At the aftermath of the battle, a defeat for the maquis, she claimed to have bicycled 500 kilometers to send a situation report to SOE in London.
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 worked for the intelligence department at the British Air Ministry, attached to embassies in Paris and Prague.
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 in Canberra.
Wake remarried in 1957 and returned to Australia with her husband.
Her autobiography is a fascinating read and numerous other books have been written ( as well as movie scripts) about her courageous deeds.
“I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas.” – Nancy Wake
When my daughters were in Primary School all those years ago there was an occasion where they celebrated famous Australians. Each child had to do a presentation about their favourite Australian.
There were talks about pop stars, cricket players – especially Shane Warne, and celebrities such as Steve Irwin, Wildlife Warrior.
When it was Pocahontas’ turn she did a flawless presentation on The White Mouse. God love her……