Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nancy Wake, my hero

If I had the chance to go back in time and be anyone I wanted to be, I would be Nancy Wake.
I've just finished reading her biography, Nancy Wake by Peter Fitzsimons, and, it's a big call I know, but I'm just putting it out there... I have never heard of a more fearless, kick-ass human being in all of history.
I first heard of Nancy Wake when she died at the ripe old age of 98 in 2011, and was thrilled when I found out she was a New Zealander, as most people knew her as an Australian, since she moved there as a young child.
I asked dad about her and he told me she was nicknamed "White Mouse" because of her ability to evade capture during World War two. By the end of the war, she was on top of the Gestapo's  most wanted list, and she ended up being one of the most highly decorated war heroes of the second world war.
In the early days of the war when France was occupied by Nazis, Nancy helped saved thousands of people by setting up escape routes out of France into Spain, and then, as the war intensified, she was trained as a spy by the British and led 7,000 resistance fighters in D-Day preparations.
She parachuted into France, organised food, clothes and weapons to be dropped from the sky, embarked on a 500km bike ride in 72 hours to get a new radio when theirs had to be destroyed (the radio was their most important weapon - without it they could not continue what they were doing because they couldn't arrange for supplies to be sent from Britain), and basically, she organised a band of soldiers to piss the Germans off so much that they were driven out of France - they blew up bridges, ammunition stores, and attacked German troops unseen and took off back into the mountains.
And they did leave. France was liberated in the end. And after reading about Nancy, I think it would have been a whole lot harder if not for her.
After reading the book, I looked her up on YouTube, and, one video that struck me was one where Peter Fitzsimons, the author, was talking about the book launch, and said that when Nancy was asked to go up and speak, she simply stood up and said, "I've got one thing to say. I killed a lot of Germans, and I'm only sorry I didn't kill more. Thank you." And sat down. A sentence like that just sums her up completely. What a woman.

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