Thursday, November 8, 2012
By 1943, Wake (called "The White Mouse" by the Germans because she was so good at eluding capture) was the Gestapo's most sought resistance fighter, with a 5-million franc bounty on her head. Still, she was so in-your-face that she'd pass through the German checkpoints winking flirtatiously and say, "Do you want to search me?"
When it became obvious that she needed to bolt for safety, Wake crossed the Pyrenees into Spain and on to Britain, where she joined the British Special Operations Executive and parachuted right back into France. A "good and fast shot" with a great attitude under duress, she had soon helped to recruit, train, and organize a resistance force of 7,500 guerilla fighters in the hills around Montlucon.
Leading attacks on Gestapo headquarters personally, Wake proved herself capable on many occasions of killing in cold blood. Later, during an interview, she remembered killing a sentry who spotted her. "They'd taught this judo-chop stuff with the flat of the hand at SOE, and I practised away at it. But this was the only time I used it -- whack -- and it killed him all right." Another mission required her to ride a bicycle 500 miles though multiple German checkpoints.
After the war, Wake received more than a dozen medals and acknowledgements. Unfortunately, it was only then she learned that her husband has been tortured to death by the Gestapo in their efforts to locate her. It can be dangerous to be an in-your-face woman. It can also be dangerous to be close to one.