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Courage – The White Mouse

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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23 Comments
The Courage of Nancy Wake

Courage. Courage inspires loyalty, respect, admiration, and even love. We live in times that test our courage. They may test it more ahead. Never forget the power of courage, to change one life, many lives, and the world.

The Nazis called her “the White Mouse,” a svelte, beautiful, rugged, and independent young woman, then in her early 20’s. She repeatedly escaped the Gestapo, helped lead 7000 French Resistance fighters, and became a model of good cheer in a time of none, unlikely strength, unapologetic courage.

As described in medal citations, French, British, Australian, and American, as well as in her autobiography, 1985, Nancy Wake was an irreverent freedom fighter, loved deeply, defended fiercely, and killed with conviction as necessary, small of stature but big influence, went places no one did.

Almost 80 years ago, in Spring 1944, she parachuted into Auvergne, France, having been a Paris journalist, seen the Nazis rise, met her first love and future husband, French businessman Henri Fiocca, married, watched France fall in 1940 from Marseille, then driven ambulances, eventually escaping.

Within months of the Nazi invasion of France, she joined the French Resistance, focused on getting allied soldiers and airmen who had been trapped or shot down back home. Like something out of Hogan’s Heroes, she coordinated food, clothes, false identity papers, hid people, and saved countless lives.

Part of what they called the Pat O’Leary Escape Line, she took a leadership role in the Resistance, got thousands of allied troops out against the odds, supported by MI-9, British Intelligence, and others.

In 1942, as America entered the European Theater with “Operation Torch,” to take back North Africa, Gestapo moved across Vichy France. They aimed to break the Resistance. Think Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca – only for real, devastating. The Escape Line was betrayed, and Wake was nearly killed.

The White Mouse was cornered but escaped to Toulouse. In 1943, again captured, she again escaped, through Spain to Britain, joined the British Special Operations, and oversaw agents going into France.

She was described as having “tremendous vitality, flashing eyes,” “a cheerful spirit, strength of character,” and was also “a very good and fast shot.” Her husband, Henri, stayed in Auvergne.

By 1944, this female version of James Bond, Scarlett Pimpernel, and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, was on the move herself, once again.  That Spring, 80 years ago, the White Mouse jumped into Auvergne, and began coordinating drops of arms, ammunition, equipment, and money from Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) for the French Resistance – and began preparing for an Invasion, Normandy, D-Day.

On her person, she carried plans for the D-Day Invasion, targets, drop points, and details needed for the French Resistance to support the Allies, who would land within months on those five French beaches.

On June 2, four days before the Allies’ epic assault from the sea, the beginning of the end, the Gestapo amped up their hunt for her, the White Mouse, a name they gave her for so often escaping. They put big money on her head and surrounded the Resistance headquarters at Mont Mouchet.

Despite “heavy losses,” she and a small contingent again escaped. To alert London, she found a bicycle, and reportedly rode more than 300 miles in three days, intent on getting word back to Special Operations.

Fascinatingly, after D-Day, she was joined by several US Marines. Together, they attacked German convoys, destroyed Gestapo HQ at Montlucon, and continued to assist with the Allied push.

In that time, she is credited with strategic and operational wit, but above all courage, somehow able to deploy steel nerves, audacity, fast thinking, charm, and hand-to-hand combat to bring down the enemy.

Turning pages of books about her, reading her own autobiography for the first time, aptly entitled “The White Mouse,” I was brought to quiet, repeatedly. Undeterred, she sidelined her fears and prevailed.

This beautiful, irrepressible, French Resistance leader, superb at all she did, was determined to beat the Nazis. She was a linguist, intelligence, and logistics expert, sharpshooter, paratrooper, and thoughtful writer.

But what distinguished her, and others of that era, was courage. The White Mouse, young Nancy Wake, is what courage – the optimism that propels it and loyalty and love it inspires – really looks like.

She died in 2011 at 98, crisp to the end, one of her only regrets was the loss of her first love and husband, who was caught by the Nazis, refused to give up any information on “the White Mouse,” was killed.

His last dialogue was with his father, who urged him to tell what he knew of her, forget the consequences, and save his own life.  But that is not what the love that courage inspires looks like. Heri’s last words, spoken to his father, were a refusal to betray her, and “leave me in peace.” Courage.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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SusanW
SusanW
26 days ago

What a delightful and inspirational story, Robert! Our world desperately needs more examples of the “White Mouse”aka Nancy Wake. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of passionate souls who reflect courage, love and strength in our current world. Instead we have an abundance of followers who blindly accept what they are told to do and think. It is very hard to look evil in the eye and say “no”, but we were all born into this divine world with the ability to do it. So, it is up to each and every one of us to find our passion, courage, and strength and be the example that might inspire others to say “no” as well.

PapaGrouch
PapaGrouch
26 days ago

I can only imagine how the feckless cowards of the radical neo-Marxist left of today would eviscerate this magnificent hero. What an example of courage and tenacity that our culture is so much in need of. Great article!! Thanks

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
26 days ago

Great Person and great story. Kyle L.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
26 days ago

Wow, what a storied life! Where’s the action movie of her life at?

The Armstrong Family
The Armstrong Family
25 days ago

Her loyalty and expertise would make great movie.
Pass this on to Hollywood!

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
25 days ago

A great historical tribute to Nancy Wake – stories like this are of real importance now in 2024 , the qualities of courage, having a high level of intelligence, being resourceful . Well done Robert . Understanding the spirit of what was being done by the Resistance , and everyone involved in defending freedom , fighting for freedom then is vital , it contributes to the ideas that make sense now and for the betterment of civilization in the future. This article is something that should be appreciated by everyone who cares about how victory was achieved in 1945. Honorable endeavors should be remembered – it helps to understand how Good needs to prevail over Evil – this writing is a great bit of inspirational insight – the soul of situation then ,something to learn from for sure.

Marlene
Marlene
25 days ago

Wow, I did not know about this beautiful brave warrior, so inspiring! Who says we should ignore ‘history’ no way! I watch the history channel to see factual stories like this one: I am adding Nancy Wake to my list????????????????Thank you

Rollin Bird
Rollin Bird
25 days ago

Incredible story. Didn’t know about her until this and must read her autobiography. Thanks for posting!

gus
gus
25 days ago

Thank you so much for this true story of heroism. I am totally fascinated by WW 2 and resistance fighters. Their courage, bravery and risk taking are so inspiring. The evil of Nazism still exists today under different guises.

Sharon
Sharon
25 days ago

THIS STORY should be made into a movie.

Stephon Hackett
Stephon Hackett
24 days ago

Украина продолжает оставаться в центре внимания мировых СМИ из-за своего стратегического положения и внутренних вызовов. Если вы ищете обновленную информацию и экспертные мнения о последних событиях, рекомендую эту статью, которая предлагает всесторонний взгляд на обстановку.

KLMARTIN
KLMARTIN
17 days ago

Awesome history. Takes my breath.

ft wurth
ft wurth
25 days ago

debt elimination plan

63 percent tax on all income over 4 million
95 percent reduction in military spending
no foreign aid

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