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Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake (b. 1912) is a New Zealand-born lady who fought alongside the Maquis of French Resistance.

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake was born in Wellington, New Zealand. Her family moved to Australia in 1914. At the age of 16 she ran away from home and became a nurse. With £200 she received from a relative she moved to London and trained herself as a journalist. In the 1930s she worked in Paris. Later she worked for Hearst[?] newspapers’ European correspondent. In 1935 she witnessed Nazi violence in Vienna.

In 1935 she met French industrialist Henri Fiocca, whom she married in 1939. She was in France when Germany invaded. After the fall of France, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Albert Guerisse[?]. Gestapo called her “White Mouse”.

When the network was betrayed in December 1943, she had to escape from Marseilles and leave her husband behind. She was later arrested in Toulouse but released four days later. Her fifth or sixth attempt to cross the Pyrenees to Spain succeeded. She went to Britain and joined Special Operations Executive.

In the night of April 29-30 1944 Nancy Wake parachuted into Auvergne and became a liaison between London and the local Maquis group. She coordinated resistance activity prior to Normandy Invasion and recruited more members. She also lead attacks to German installations and local Gestapo HQ in Montucon[?]. In April 1944 her 7,000 maqui fought 22,000 SS soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties. Her compatriots – especially Henri Tardivat[?] - praised her fighting spirit.

After the war, she received The George Medal[?], the U.S. Medal of Freedom[?], the Médaille de la Résistance[?] and thrice the Croix de Guerre[?]. She also learnt that Gestapo had tortured Henri Fiocca to death in 1943.

She worked for the Intelligence Department at the British Air Ministry[?] attached to embassies of Paris and Prague. In 1957 she married John Forward and returned to Australia. In 1985 she wrote her autobiography The White Mouse[?]. In 1988 she received the French title of Cavalier of the Legion of Honor. John Forward died 1997. As of this writing, she is again living in London.

The movie Charlotte Gray[?] is loosely based on Nancy Wake’s exploits.

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