Known as Die “Weisse Maus” (the “White Mouse”) by the Germans, Nancy Wake first worked in occupied France with the escape network, which assisted Allied airmen in evading capture and escaping to Spain. She herself had to escape, once the Germans became aware of her. Her husband, a wealthy industrialist was not so lucky; the Germans executed him.
Wake was as tough as they come. She returned to France, secretly parachuting behind enemy lines in 1944. Working for the SOE under the code name “Hélène”, she collected and distributed supplies that were parachuted in, bicycled 500 km to deliver important information, killed a German guard with her bare hands, and shamed her male companions into executing a captured German spy by volunteering to do it herself. (the spy was a young woman) She lived to be 98.
Wake received the George Medal from the United Kingdom, the Medal of Freedom from the United States and the Legion of Honor from France.