Throughout the course of the most violent conflict in history, one of the most wanted people in the world was a pretty 32 year old woman, Nancy Wake, known to the Gestapo as the White Mouse. She was regarded by the Gestapo as one of the most dangerous people in occupied Europe. She was brave, brash, flirtatious and ruthless. The White Mouse was a New Zealand born, Australian, French Resistance fighter. Yeah, I know that sounds a little confusing, but it does make sense.
Nancy Wake, who would become the White Mouse, was born in Wellington New Zealand. When she was 2, her family moved to Sydney, Australia where she was raised. When she became an adult she inherited £200 and traveled to New York, then London where she trained herself to become a journalist. It was while she was working as a journalist in France that she met her husband. They married and lived in France when WWII broke out.
Nancy Wake joined the French Resistance as a courier and later joined the escape network. She would eventually rise to become the leader of a guerrilla group. By 1943 she was the most wanted person by the Gestapo with a 5 million franc bounty on her head. But she wasn’t only a masterful leader. She was also a ruthless killing machine.
On one occasion she discovered that her men were protecting a female spy. They all refused to kill her, so the White Mouse did the deed herself. If that isn’t impressive enough just keep reading. On another occasion she single handedly killed an elite SS guard with nothing more than her bare hands!
Nancy Wake, the White Mouse, survived the war, but her husband was captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo. She became the most decorated woman of the Second World War and passed away in London in 2011 at the age of 98. A truly remarkable woman by any standards.
Nancy Wakes honours:
- Companion of the Order of Australia
- George Medal
- 1939–1945 Star
- France and Germany Star
- Defence Medal
- War Medal 1939–1945
- Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur
- Officier de la Légion d’Honneur
- Croix de guerre (France)
- Médaille de la Résistance
- Medal of Freedom (United States)
- RSA Badge in Gold (New Zealand)