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Archive - Thursday, 8 March 2012
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Memorial held for WWII legend
Staff at the Royal Star and Garter attended a special memorial service for a fearless World War II spy who lived at the care home for the last eight years of her life.
Nancy Wake: Known as the white mouse
Nancy Wake, who was one of the most decorated women in the armed forces, died aged 98 in August last year.
Mrs Wake, who grew up in Australia, pursued a passion for journalism and was inspired to fight against the persecution of Jews after interviewing the new German chancellor Adolf Hitler in 1933.
Staff who looked after Mrs Wake at the Royal Star and Garter care home, in Richmond Hill, joined 200 guests to celebrate her life during a special service at St Clement Danes Church, in the Strand, London, on Tuesday, March 6. Mrs Wake was a keen supporter of the Royal Star and Garter’s music club and her memorial was filled with musical content. The choir interspersed the readings and prayers with four uplifting excerpts from Fauré’s Requiem.
Mrs Wake married a rich businessman from Marseille and her French ties were also acknowledged by a reading from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s the Little Prince and a rendition of Bailèro, a song traditional to the shepherds of Haut-Auvergne.
Guests later attended a reception at Australian High Commission.
Prince Charles had given Mrs Wake a plasma television and DVD player at the Royal Star and Garter home, which she used to watch classic films such as Gone with the Wind.
Sue Harley, of 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.”
The war heroine was nicknamed the White Mouse by the Gestapo because of her elusiveness.
She parachuted into the Auvergne region of France in April 1944 and soon found herself alongside resistance fighters in pitched battles with the Germans.
She returned to London after the liberation of France and was awarded the George Medal. The French gave her three Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance and later made her an Officier de la Légion d'Honneur.
The Americans awarded her the Medal of Freedom and the Australians made her a Companion of the Order of Australia. By D-Day she was leading 7,000 resistance fighters against occupying forces and author Sebastian Faulks was believed to have written Charlotte Gray with Mrs Wake’s character inspiring the eponymous heroine.