Monday, August 8, 2011
Kiwi World War II heroine dies
The White Mouse has died. The great war heroine Nancy Wake, whose picture was so beautifully vandalized on ANZAC Day, died over the weekend in London. She was 98.
She lived an astonishing life and her passing is the end of an era. Born in New Zealand, Wake became famous for her courage and ability to elude capture by the Nazis in World War II. Though she left as an infant, she regarded herself as a Kiwi and kept her New Zealand passport until she died.
Her courage working and fighting with the French resistance earned her bravery awards from France, England, Australia and the United States - though not New Zealand, a now-irreversible omission that was commented upon after her death was announced.
A beautiful woman who received the nickname "The White Mouse" because she was so impossible to catch, Wake's life reads like something out of a movie script. Actually, in reading about her life I was reminded of Ken Follett's "Jackdaws." Like Wake, Follett's star character, Felicity "Flick" Clairet, parachuted into France to aid the resistance and fight the Nazis. Clairet too was married to a French resistance leader. Wake's first husband was executed by the Germans, fuelling her anger to join the fight against them - to such an extent that, at one time, she was at the top of the Nazis' most-wanted list.
Her extraordinary life came to an end this weekend. She was surely the last remaining of her kind. You can read the Dominion Post story about her here.