Monday, March 11, 2013

Australian Heroine honored in France

The ashes of Nancy Wake, 
an Australian woman working as a British agent during WWII 
who became a courier for the French Resistance 
(and the inspiration for the film and novel Charlotte Gray, her character played by Cate Blanchett),
were recently scattered in the village of Verneix at her request. 

Known as The White Mouse by the Gestapo for her elusiveness,
Wake, in 1943, had a 5-million franc price on her head.
She lived in Marseille with her husband, wealthy businessman Henri Fiocca,
when she got word that the Gestapo were on their way to her home. 
She fled, her husband staying behind, only to learn at the end of the war
that he had been captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo for not giving up her whereabouts. 

She trained in London with the Special Operations Executive and on April 29th, 1944,
 was parachuted into the Auvergne near Verneix.
She was known for her strength of character. 
Upon finding her dangling from a tree, 
the captain of the local resistance remarked,
"I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year."
Her reply: "Don't give me that French 'merde'." (Translation, mine.)
In describing her tactics, she was quoted as saying,
"A little powder and a little drink on the way, and I'd pass their posts and wink and say,
'Do you want to search me?' God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was." 

She worked to recruit members and led a force of more than 7,500 in attacks against the German forces.
She was awarded the Croix de Guerre three times as well as the Medaille de la Resistance, 
and the US Medal of Freedom. She married a former RAF fighter pilot in 1957 
and died in London in 2011 at the age of 98.

Here's lookin' at you, Kid!

(Quotes thanks to Wiki)
(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)


  1. WOW...what a story! I have to see this movie; I love any stories related to this time of our history.

    HI KIRSTEN! Anita

  2. I don't think they make them like that anymore. I need to google her and see her pic.

  3. Fascinating. I just watched Charlotte Gray. I love moments of synchronicity like this.

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