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Nancy Grace Augusta Wake

Nancy Wake worked for the Pat O’Leary escape line and the Special Operations Executive in France for the Allies during World War II. The official historian of the SOE said that “her irrepressible, infectious, high spirits were a joy to everyone who worked with her.”

She was living in Marseille with her industrialist husband, Henry Fiocca, when the war broke out. After the fall of France to Nazi Germany, she became a courier for the Pat O’Leary escape network led by Ian Garrow. As a member of the escape network, she helped Allied airmen evade capture by the Germans and escape to neutral Spain. In 1943, when the Germans became aware of her, she escaped to Spain and continued on to the United Kingdom.

After reaching Britain, she joined the Special Operations Executive. On April 29-30, 1944 as a member of a three person SOE team codenamed “Freelance,” Wake parachuted into Allier Department of occupied France to liaise between the SOE and several groups in the Auvergne region. She was a participant in a battle between a large force of Germans and the maquis in June 1944. In the aftermath of the battle, she bicycled 500 kilometers to send a situation report to SOE in London.

Wake was a recipient of the George Medal from the United Kingdom, the Medal of Freedom from the United States, the Legion of Honor from France, and medals from Australia and New Zealand. In 1985, she published her autobiography, The White Mouse, the title derived from what the Germans called her.

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