because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nancy Wake

Born in New Zealand in 1912 and raised in Australia, Nancy Wake set out to seek her fortune when she was sixteen and, after touching base in New York and London, she found it in Paris in the person of a wealthy French industrialist who she promptly married. When the Nazis occupied France, she immediately became a courier for the French Resistance and began to work with those who aided Allied soldiers and others to escape the country.

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.

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