Kiwi as

Our keen individual who inspires and surprises this week is the amazing woman Nancy Wake,?born in Wellington, on 30 August 1912.

One newspaper described her exploits as making novelist Sebastian Faulkes? fictional Charlotte Grey ?read like an Enid Blyton girls? school frolic?. Quote:

Nancy Wake was the Allies? most decorated servicewoman of WWII, and the Gestapo?s most-wanted person. They code-named her ?The White Mouse? because of her ability to elude capture. When war broke out she was a young woman married to a wealthy Frenchman living a life of luxury in cosmopolitan Marseilles. She became a saboteur, organiser and Resistance fighter who led an army of 7,000 Maquis troops in guerrilla warfare to sabotage the Nazis. Her story is one of daring, courage and optimism in the face of impossible odds. […]

Six months after [her?marriage to a handsome wealthy French industrialist, Henri Fiocca, in Marseille], Germany invaded France. Slowly but surely Nancy drew herself into the fight. In 1940 she crossed the line between observation and action, and joined the embryonic Resistance movement as a courier, smuggling messages and food to underground groups in Southern France. She bought an ambulance and used it to help refugees fleeing the German advance. Being the beautiful wife of a wealthy businessman, she had an ability to travel that few others could contemplate. She obtained false papers that allowed her to stay and work in the Vichy zone in occupied France, and became deeply involved in helping to spirit a thousand or more escaped prisoners of war and downed Allied fliers out of France through to Spain. […] End of quote.

By 1943, she had a five million franc bounty on her head and was forced to flee but in Britain she joined the French section of the British Special Operations? Executive, training in survival skills, silent killing, codes, radio operation, night parachuting, plastic explosives, Sten guns, rifles, pistols and grenades.

In April 1944, she parachuted back into France in the Auvergne region to help organise resistance prior to D-Day. She led an estimated 7,000-strong Resistance Force against 22,000 German troops, inflicting severe damage and casualties.

Other escapades included organising the defence against 22,000 SS troops resulting in 1,400 German fatalities, leading a raid on Gestapo headquarters in Montucon, killing a sentry with her bare hands and shooting her way out of roadblocks.

And then there was the bike ride!Quote.

On one occasion Nancy cycled 500 km through several German checkpoints to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a German raid. Without these there would be no fresh orders or drops of weapons and supplies. Of all the amazing things she did during the war, Nancy believes this marathon ride was the most useful. She covered the distance in 71 hours, cycling through countryside and mountains almost non-stop. Her focus was rock steady to the end of her epic journey, when she wept in pain and relief.

?I got back and they said, ?how are you?? I cried. I couldn?t stand up, I couldn?t sit down. I couldn?t do anything. I just cried.? End of quote.

A year after Nancy had left France in 1943, the Germans had captured Henri and tortured and executed him, because he refused to give them any information about the whereabouts of his wife.Quote.

After the war her achievements were heralded by medals and awards: the George Medal from Britain for her leadership and bravery under fire, the Resistance Medal, Officer of the Legion d?Honneur and Croix de Guerre with two bronze palms and a silver star from France, and the Medal of Freedom from America.

However, for many years she was never awarded a medal by the Australian government. When the Australian Returned Services League recommended that Wake be awarded a medal, they were turned down. The?Sydney?Morning Herald?(April 28th, 2000) surmised that she was turned down for a medal because she was born in New Zealand and was considered a New Zealand citizen. In 1994 she refused to donate her medals to the Museum of Australia and proclaimed to the New Zealand Press Association in Sydney (Evening Post, April 30, 1994)? that she was still a New Zealander and reminded the press that she had kept her New Zealand passport, despite her 80 year absence from the country.

In 2004 Nancy Wake was, at long last, awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia. In 2006 Nancy received the NZ Returned Services Association?s highest honour, the RSA Badge in Gold, as well as life membership for her work with the French resistance during the war. End of quote.

Kiwi as!

Scene from the movie about Nancy’s exploits. “The Mouse that Roared.”

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