WWII heroine Nancy Wake, 98, dies

Aug. 8, 2011 at 3:58 AM
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LONDON, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Nancy Wake, a World War II resistance fighter nicknamed "The White Mouse" for her ability to elude the German Nazis, has died at age 98, a friend said Monday.

The friend said Wake died at a London hospital where she was being treated for a chest infection, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The New Zealand native who grew up in Sydney was bestowed the Companion of the Order of Australia for her efforts with the French Resistance during the war. She also received the French Legion d'Honneur and three Croix de Guerre, a French Resistance Medal, Britain's George Medal and the U.S. Medal of Freedom

Wake was working as a journalist in France when the war started. She and her husband Henri Fiocca became active in the resistance movement in 1940. She spent three years helping Allied soldiers and airmen reach safety before having to flee to Spain and eventually England in 1943.

In England she was trained as a spy by the British and parachuted back into France where her job was to distribute weapons among Resistance fighters hiding in the mountains. She cycled 300 miles through German checkpoints to deliver vital radio codes to the Allies and once killed a Gestapo officer with her bare hands, the Telegraph said.

"She is the most feminine woman I know until the fighting starts. Then, she is like five men," a French colleague said.

Her husband was tortured and killed by the Gestapo.

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