A Hero For Our Times

“Blisteringly sexy, she killed Nazis with her bare hands and had a 5 million-franc bounty on her head”

The above quote is from a DailyMail.com article describing Nancy Wake, whose larger than life exploits as a member of the French Resistance during World War II  earned her France’s highest order of merit, the Legion d’Honneur and the well deserved designation of heroine to the French people and her allies around the world.

Ms. Wake died in 2011, but I thought in honor of France’s historic election today, a post celebrating her life was appropriate. For a depressingly accurate analyses of the dismal candidates of that election, please review x Praetorius’s excellent post on it here.

 Back to Ms. Wake. Although she was born in New Zealand and brought up in Australia, Nancy Wake embodied the spirit of the tough as nails French women that made up part of the resistance against Germany.  She reminds me too of my late  grandmother, also a tough as nails type woman who hid downed American pilots from the Nazis while raising her  young family in Southern France.

Known as the “White Mouse” to the Gestapo due to her ability to wriggle out of the numerous traps they set for her, Ms. Wake was widely praised for her bravery in helping thousands escape Nazi occupied France.

An excerpt from the same article:

“And so aggressive was she that, after being parachuted into France as a Special  Operations Executive agent, she disposed of a German guard with her bare hands and liked nothing better than bowling along in the front seat of a fast car through the countryside, a Sten gun on her lap and a cigar between her teeth, in search of Germans to kill.”

Yet as fierce as Nancy Wake was, she was equally known for her strong streak of femininity, which provides a fascinating contrast.

Another excerpt:

“So feminine was she that when escaping from pursuers on one notable occasion, she dressed in a smart frock, silk stockings, high-heeled shoes and a camel-hair coat, arguing that she didn’t want to look like a hunted woman.

In that same outfit, she jumped from a  moving train into a vineyard to avoid capture at a Nazi checkpoint.”

What’s not to admire about a woman fleeing Nazis while wearing stockings and high heels?

I think about people like Nancy Wake and my grandmother and wonder, does France have what it takes to produce people of such grit and character?  Or have they succumbed entirely to the weakness of the “safety net” mentality, where things like a 40 hour workweek and employees checking email on their off hours are considered hardships that must be banned by the government?

For that matter does America?

We’ll find out soon I guess.

One final quote about the remarkable Nancy Wake from a fellow resistance fighter.

“The most  feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. And then she is like five men.”

Rest in peace brave lady, you deserve it.

Nancy Wake                               Nancy Wake during WWII; Photo Credit: abc.net.au

For more information on the fascinating Nancy Wake go here  and here.  Also check out the movie inspired by her life called Charlotte Gray starring Cate Blanchett in the lead role.

 

 

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26 Responses to A Hero For Our Times

  1. What a wonderful story Tricia–thank you so much for sharing Nancy’s exploits with the quest for freedom. I’ve read several great books on the French Resistance and will certainly look for more about Nancy—viva la France!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Wasn’t she a neat lady? I had a never heard about her until recently which inspired this post.

      Any recommendations from those books? I’m going there this summer and it would be fun to do some resistance research before I go.

      Thanks for coming by Julie. Yes, viva la France indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The last book I read on the French Resistance was The Cost Of Courage by Charles Kaiser—a story about three siblings working against the German occupation….
        I’ve read a great deal more about those actually in Germany working the resistance and have been interested in the tales of those throughout Europe who labored behind the scenes as it were—each a hero or heroine in their own right—of course the the latest being the story of Corrie Ten Boom in Holland.
        Having a keen interest in this time period, and having read countless books about Churchill and the Allies, to Hitler and Stalin….it is the tales of the individuals from Russia to the bombings of London that are the most telling—stories of average people defying torture, atrocities, death…to do the right things by their fellow man…I think it is crucial that we always remember the sacrifices made by so many people—because I do not see today’s current generations being able to rise above as these previous generations did….
        Is your trip to France for pleasure Tricia?
        My favorite museum in Paris is the Cluny Museum–the museum of Medieval France—really fascinating…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tricia says:

          Thanks so much Julie for the book reference and your thoughts on this. I too love the personal stories behind the individuals living in such momentous times and doing the most amazing things. I do worry about too about where we are headed today and whether or not enough people have what it takes to stand up to evil as those past heroes and heroines did. We shall see soon enough I’m afraid.

          The trip will be for fun. I’m taking my mom to see family we have in the coastal S area (Atlantic ocean, near Spain). We will be doing a side trip to London as well, can’t wait!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I am dubious about x’s opinion of Le Pen.

    People said the same thing about THE Donald and he has proven himself to be extremely competent.

    We need to get over the myth that we need to empower “experts” with power over our lives.

    What we really need are leaders who have a moral compass and care more about their country and its people than they do themselves and their ruling class cronies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tricia says:

      I completely agree with you about the idiocy of the so called experts we seem to continually elect. My opposition to Le Pen is not that she’s an outsider but that her economic views are decidedly un free market and really run more left wing than right. that’s the last thing France needs right now. On the jihad threat, immigration and restoring French identity though she is spot on. Perhaps that’s the most important thing then, I dunno. I’m just glad the Socialist lost.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What fun! Thanks for mentioning her, I enjoyed reading that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dennis says:

    A very brave “lady” indeed Tricia. A very timely post.
    I have read about her in the past and she was all the things you referred to in your post.
    She brought the very tough New Zealand “Kiwi” toughness to France and inspired a lot of French men and women to resist.

    I agree with Silenceofmind in that Le Pen is a lot like President Trump. I see her as someone that will drag the country kicking and screaming to the realization that their country has been on the wrong path for a lot of years and it’s time to right the ship of state. Leaving the EU would be a great start. This head in the sand attitude is not working. Just like our last 10 yrs.

    The US is on the upward path and even though I don’t agree with everything President Trump does (quit tweeting!!!) I do think if he lowers all taxes and replaces obamacare he will bring the country around. Everyone likes prosperity.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tricia says:

      She really was a neat and complex women. I’m inspired to read more about her and the other brave men and women of the French resistance.

      As pertains to Le Pen, I have nothing against her immigration and EU views and I think she is dead right on the loss of French identity. It’s the issue of the times really for them. There are neighborhoods there that you just would not recognize as being part of France and would not want to go to. I’ve seen it myself.

      Economically though she is pretty far left while France is in desperate need of pro market reforms. We’ll see how things shake out though, exciting times!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Young people need to be reminded about people like Nancy Wake. They were a breed of REAL personalities and QUALITATIVE character that seems to escape us in current times. Sharing posts like these shows the level of commitment people were once willing to make. Hopefully, it inspires enough positive emotions, that people will once again consider sacrificing (at least some of) their own well being for a larger purpose.

    Thank you for sharing this amazing woman’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. calmkate says:

    A truly amazing lady, have heard her history before but great to keep it current.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ColorStorm says:

    Captain Jack Sparrow would be jealous. Here’s the real McCoy. Savvy, Sexy. Shrewd. Sassy. Smart. Love that train image.

    Nice read T.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    Some people we want on our side, and some we don’t. That lady was someone we definitely wanted on our side.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. xPraetorius says:

    Great post, Tricia! Makes me want to research her and the French Resistance even more. We have in our minds such a decidedly unNancy Wake-like image of today’s French population!

    Thanks for the plug, too! 🙂

    Best,

    — x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Links To Some Uplifting Posts (5-2-2017) – My Daily Musing

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