Who is she?
Nancy Wake was a British Special Operations agent in WW2 and a leading figure in the French Resistance. Known as ‘The White Mouse’, she was at open point the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million franc bounty on her head.
Nancy trained as a journalist in London, then married a wealthy French industrialist. She was living in Marseilles when France fell to the Germans, and became a courier for the Resistance.
She escaped France and fled to Britain, where she became a Special Operations agent. Nancy was parachuted into France, where she was a liaison between the UK and the local maquis (rural guerrilla French resistance fighters). She led attacks on German installations and killed an SS officer with her bare hands. To replace essential codes for her wireless operator she once rode her bicycle more than 500km through several German checkpoints.
Nancy was awarded many medals for her service during the war, including France’s highest decoration, the Legion of Honour. Later in life, she ran for politics in Sydney, and spent her golden years as a resident of the Stafford Hotel in Piccadilly, London, where she could be found most mornings sipping her first gin and tonic of the day.
Why should we thank her?
Nancy was a badass. What I’ve described here isn’t even a fraction of the cool stuff she did in her life (read more here). She was a WW2 hero. Who knows how many lives she saved? While many women contributed to the war effort in so many ways, Nancy threw herself into the thick of the action.
“I hate wars and violence but if they come I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas”.