Nancy Wake Biography Revised Edition
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The number one bestselling biography of our greatest war heroine - over 84,000 copies sold in its first two formats. In the early 1930s, Nancy Wake was a young woman enjoying a bohemian life in Paris. By the end of the Second World War, she was the Gestapo's most wanted person. As a naïve, young journalist, Nancy Wake witnessed a horrific scene of Nazi violence in a Viennese street. From that moment, she declared that she would do everything in her power to rid Europe of the Nazis. What began as a courier job here and there became a highly successful escape network for Allied soldiers, perfectly camouflaged by Nancy's high-society life in Marseille. Her network was soon so successful - and so notorious - that she was forced to flee France to escape the Gestapo, who had dubbed her "the white mouse" for her knack of slipping through its traps. But Nancy was a passionate enemy of the Nazis and refused to stay away. Supplying weapons and training members of a powerful underground fighting force, organising Allied parachute drops, cycling four hundred kilometres across a mountain range to find a new transmitting radio - nothing seemed too difficult in her fight against the Nazis. Peter FitzSimons reveals Nancy Wake's compelling story, a tale of an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things.
might have been on a violent upsurge—Hitler’s forces had already swallowed both Austria and Czechoslovakia, and now seemed to be looking voraciously at the rest of Europe, and a million people had now been killed in the Spanish Civil War—but plenty of people continued to react to it by heading off in entirely the opposite direction. That is, they made love, not war. Early in 1939, while dining at their favourite restaurant in Marseille, ‘Verduns’, Henri suddenly seemed uncharacteristically
promise.’ With Henri granted at least some time to get his affairs in order, the two enjoyed a wonderful Christmas in the Alps with close friends, and late at night as the wine flowed and their spirits soared, it was quite possible to forget they were in a country at war. Of course it couldn’t last. Early in 1940, after the couple had attended a whole series of parties farewelling friends who were going off to fight at the front, Henri himself received some more papers, requiring him to report to
complicated Paris Metro underground railway, French travellers would make a point of giving false directions to any German enquiries as to how to get to a certain point—it was a point of honour to send them in the diametrically opposite direction. A blind beggar on the Champs Elysées would insist on playing the Marseillaise on his accordion, the better to infuriate passing German soldiers who particularly liked strutting down the famous boulevard.12 Under cover of darkness all over France,
4:00 PM Page 106 Nancy noticed that her usual seat was taken by, of all things, a tall, blond bloke reading an English book! It was one thing, of course, for her to sing British songs now and again—as a woman she had a fair chance of getting away with it—but a military-age male publicly identifying himself with things English was a rarity at this time. But, of course. He was obviously a German, setting up a trap, Nancy felt sure as she took her seat well away and started quietly observing him.
ahead— when a conductor burst into their compartment. ‘Vite, vite! Les allemands vont chercher!!!’ Quick, quick, the Germans are about to search the train! Even as he spoke they all lurched slightly forward as the train suddenly slowed down in the middle of nowhere, confirming his panicked words. Nancy and O’Leary and the other three all looked at each other and instinctively knew that they only had one option. O’Leary pulled the window open and Nancy was the first to climb through it, with the