Celebrated resistance fighter Nancy Wake dies


Nancy Wake, pictured March 2, 2004, sitting in front of the Australian war memorial during a ceremony at Hyde Park corner in London. The Australian World War II heroine — a prominent figure in the French Resistance was known as the "The White Mouse" for her ability to evade the Germans — has died in London.


Nicolas Asfouri

One of World War II’s most celebrated heroines, Nancy Wake — Born in New Zealand but raised in Australia — died aged 98 in a London hospital, where she had lived since 2001.

She and her French husband Henri Fiocca became active in the resistance movement when France was occupied by the Nazis in 1940. The British had trained her as a spy and she was called the White Mouse by the Germans because of her ability to evade capture.

According to the Australian Associated Press, Wake saved thousands of Allied lives by setting up escape routes and sabotaging German installations and she led 7000 resistance fighters in D-Day preparations and was on top of the Gestapo's most wanted list.

Wake learnt at the end of the war that her husband was tortured and killed in 1943.

Wake is regarded as a heroine in France, which decorated her with its highest military honor, the Legion d'Honneur, as well as three Croix de Guerre, a French Resistance Medal, Britain's George Medal and the U.S. Medal of Freedom.

Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard said, “Nancy Wake was a woman of exceptional courage and resourcefulness whose daring exploits saved the lives of hundreds of Allied personnel and helped bring the Nazi occupation of France to an end.

"Today our nation honors a truly remarkable individual whose selfless valor and tenacity will never be forgotten. Nancy Wake will remain an abiding inspiration to generations of Australians."

RSL national president Rear Admiral Ken Doolan said Wake was a great heroine of World War II.

"She was an extraordinarily brave person who did an enormous amount behind enemy lines, avoiding the Gestapo, standing up in a most courageous way against an awful regime, and setting a fine example for all of us," he said