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Australian heroine of French resistance dies

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Matthew Warren - [email protected]
Australian heroine of French resistance dies

Nancy Wake, whose courageous acts during World War II won her the prestigious French Légion d'Honneur award, has died in London.

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Wake was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia. Aged 16 she ran away from home and eventually found her way to Paris. 

She was credited with saving thousands of lives during the war and was known as "the white mouse" for her ability to avoid escape. She helped Jewish refugees to escape to Spain, worked in special operations in England and was parachuted into France just before D-day to help distribute weapons.

"Nancy Wake was a woman of exceptional courage and resourcefulness whose daring exploits saved the lives of hundreds of Allied personnel and helped bring the Nazi occupation of France to an end," said Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Wake died in a London nursing home on Sunday, just days before her 99th birthday.

She was modest about her own achievements. "In those days it was safer, or a woman had more chance than a man, to get around, because the Germans were taking men out just like that," she once said.

As well as her French award she also held a British George Medal and a Medal of Freedom from the United States.

 

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