Her name was Wake, Nancy Wake. Tall, dark and awesome, this sexy saboteur and spy was as glamourous as devastatingly effective. She became one of Churchill's most highly decorated special agents and the Gestapo’s nightmare.
She topped their most-wanted list with a 5-million-franc price on her head. They code-named her ‘die Weiße Maus’ - the White Mouse - because of her uncanny ability to elude capture and slip away unseen.
Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, Nancy studied journalism in London. In 1933, while on an assignment in Vienna, she interviewed Hitler and was horrified by the treatment inflicted on Jews. Six years later in Marseille, she married wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca, “charming, sexy and very amusing.” The couple had been married six months, when Germany invaded France. Nancy and her husband joined the early Resistance. Henri happily contributed his money to help over a thousand downed Allied fliers, escaped prisoners of war and Jews out of France through to Spain. Forced to flee when her network was betrayed by one of the members, Nancy was captured and interrogated for four days before escaping to Spain. Poor Henri was tortured and killed by the Nazis for refusing to give his wife up.
From Spain she travelled to London and was recruited by the head of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). After her training, she was parachuted back into France on March 31, 1944, carrying two revolvers, a million francs to help the Resistance and a cyanide pill in case she was caught.
Her mission was to help co-ordinate attacks on German lines of communication before D-Day and to organise 7,000 French Resistance fighters.
Within days of landing, she led 14 of them in an attack on a German arms factory and killed a sentry with her bare hands. When her lorry was bombed in a German raid, she stole a bicycle, cycled 500 km in 71 hours, through several German checkpoints, to replace the destroyed codes.
The beautiful brunette smoked cigars, drank heavily, fought fiercely and cursed in French, but never without her Chanel lipstick and, if forced to sleep rough, she did so in a satin nightdress.
One of her fellow Resistance fighters described her as “the most feminine woman I know – until the fighting starts. Then she is like five men”.
Nancy Wake passed away in London, on 7 August 2011, a few days before her 99th birthday. She chose France as her final resting place. She requested that her ashes be scattered over the mountains where she fought with the resistance.
“If there is such a person as St Peter, I'm going to make it easy for him: I'm going to plead guilty on all counts."