The White Mouse: WWII Hero's Story Will Live On

Aug 13, 2011
Originally published on August 13, 2011 9:00 am
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JACKI LYDEN, host: One of the most decorated women of World War II died earlier this month. Her name was Nancy Wake, but she was best known as the White Mouse. Wake was born in New Zealand but eventually landed in London. Described as sultry and glamorous, Wake never traveled anywhere without her Chanel lipstick and a favorite red, satin pillow. Before the war, she married a French industrialist. Their tastes, said the Washington Post, ran to caviar and champagne midmorning and love in the afternoon.

But when war broke out, Wake signed up. And after being trained by British intelligence, she helped arm - and lead - 7,000 French Resistance fighters. Wake and her team are credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Allied soldiers. The Gestapo put her on the top of their most-wanted list. And they gave Wake her moniker, dubbing her the White Mouse for her skill in avoiding traps.

Wake was the inspiration for the Sebastian Faulks novel "Charlotte Gray," which was made into a film starring Cate Blanchett. She died in London August 7th, three weeks shy of her 99th birthday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.