Nancy Wake bigraphy, stories - War Heroine

Nancy Wake : biography

30 August 1912 - 7 August 2011

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC GM (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011) served as a British agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies' most decorated servicewomen of the war. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo's most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head.

After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. On the night of 29–30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 SS soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while taking only 100 themselves.

Portrayal

Seasons 1 and 2 of the 1980s British television series Wish Me Luck were based on her exploits and much of the dialogue was copied from her autobiography.

Wake's story was told in a 1987 television movie, Nancy Wake, released as True Colors in the USA. She was played by Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst.

Sebastian Faulks's 1999 novel Charlotte Gray is thought to be based on Wake's war-time exploits, as well as those of Pearl Cornioley, a British secret-service agent.

Wake was featured in a 2012 article in Military Officer.

Notes

Early life

Born in Roseneath, Wellington, New Zealand in 1912, Wake was the youngest of six children. In 1914, her family moved to Sydney, Australia and settled at North Sydney.Dennis et. al. (1995), p. 626 Shortly thereafter, her father, Charles Augustus Wake, returned to New Zealand, leaving her mother Ella Wake (née Rosieur; 1874–1968) to raise the children.

In Sydney, she attended the North Sydney Household Arts (Home Science) School (see North Sydney Technical High School). At the age of 16, she ran away from home and worked as a nurse. With £200 that she had inherited from an aunt, she journeyed to New York, then London where she trained herself as a journalist. In the 1930s, she worked in Paris and later for Hearst newspapers as a European correspondent. She witnessed the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement and "saw roving Nazi gangs randomly beating Jewish men and women in the streets" of Vienna.

Biographies

In 1956, Australian author Russell Braddon wrote Nancy Wake: The Story of a Very Brave Woman (ISBN 978 0 7524 5485 6).

In 2001, Australian author Peter FitzSimons wrote Nancy Wake, A Biography of Our Greatest War Heroine (ISBN 0 7322 6919 9), a bestselling comprehensive biography of Wake.

In 2011, German author Michael Jürgs wrote Codename Hélène: Churchills Geheimagentin Nancy Wake und ihr Kampf gegen die Gestapo in Frankreich. (translated: Codename Hélène: Churchill's secret agent Nancy Wake and her fight against the Gestapo in France). The book was published in October 2012.

Post-war

Immediately after the war, Wake was awarded the George Medal, the United States Medal of Freedom, the Médaille de la Résistance, and thrice the Croix de Guerre. She learned that the Gestapo had tortured her husband to death in 1943 for refusing to disclose her whereabouts. After the war, she worked for the Intelligence Department at the British Air Ministry attached to embassies of Paris and Prague.

Wake stood as a Liberal candidate in the 1949 Australian federal election for the Sydney seat of Barton, running against Dr. Herbert Evatt, then Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs in the Ben Chifley Labor government. While Chifley lost government to Robert Menzies, Wake recorded a 13 percent swing against Evatt, with Evatt retaining the seat with 53.2 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis. Wake ran against Evatt again at the 1951 federal election.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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