Never miss anything again. Sign up for our RSS news feeds and Newsletters.

World War Two spy and inspiration for film 'Charlotte Gray' dies

A fearless World War II spy and journalist who interviewed Hitler and became one of the most decorated women in the armed forces has died.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: RICH/SC/ELM Fearless World War Two spy and inspiration for film 'Charlotte Gray' dies Fearless World War Two spy and inspiration for film 'Charlotte Gray' dies

Nancy Wake, who went from being a nurse in Australia to become a leading figure in the French Resistance, nicknamed the White Mouse, during the Second World War, died aged 98 on August 7 at Kingston Hospital.

She had lived at the Royal Star and Garter Home for ex-servicemen and women in Richmond Hill since 2003.

Born in New Zealand, Mrs Wake grew up in Australia and worked as a nurse before persuing a passion for journalism.It was an interview with new German chancellor Adolf Hitler in 1933 that inspired her to fight against his persecution of Jews.

Mrs Wake married a rich businessman from Marseille and, when France fell to the invading Germans, helped Allied soldiers and airmen cross the border to make their way home via Spain.

By D-Day she was leading 7,000 resistance fighters in the fight against occupying forces.

It is said that author Sebastian Faulks wrote Charlotte Gray with Nancy Wake’s character inspiring the eponymous heroine.

Mrs Wake had been trained in Morse code, surveillance and survival skills and once killed a German guard with her bare hands. Of the enemy, she once said: “I have only one thing to say: I killed a lot of Germans, and I am only sorry I didn’t kill more.”

The Gestapo had nicknamed her the White Mouse, due to her elusiveness, and had put her on their most wanted list, with a five million franc price on her head.

Wake was awarded medals for her extraordinary bravery: the French Legion D’Honneur, the British George Medal, the US Medal of Freedom, and in 2004, she was made Companion of the Order of Australia.

At The Royal Star and Garter home for ex-soldiers and airmen, Prince Charles had given her a plasma television and DVD player on which she would watch classic films such as Gone With The Wind.

Sue Harley, from the Royal Star and Garter, said “she was a very private person” and added “she loved the music club which was on every Tuesday night”.

Wake has requested that her ashes be scattered in central France.



About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree