Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Nancy Wake


The White Mouse

Nancy Wake is one of the most decorated women of the Second World War. She received the George Medal, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, British War Medal 1939-45, French Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, French Croix de Guerre with Star and two Palms, US Medal for Freedom with Palm and French Medaille de la Resistance for her courageous endeavours.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand on 30 August 1912 and educated in Sydney, Nancy left home in her early 20s for the glamour of Paris. While there, working as a journalist she met Henri Fiocca. She later described him as "love of my life".

They married in 1939.

Just six months later, Germany invaded France.

"That was my experience of Hitler"

Nancy had already seen Nazi cruelty first hand on a visit to Vienna in 1933. She said "they had a big wheel and they had the Jews tied to it, and the stormtroopers were there, whipping them. When we were going out of Vienna they took our photos. That was my experience of Hitler."

Faced with this brutality at home, Nancy joined the French resistance movement and worked tirelessly manning dangerous escape routes through France, saving the lives of hundreds of Allied Troops.

Her name become known to the Gestapo and her life was seriously in danger. But her luck held, earning her the code-name "The White Mouse".

"I never saw him again"

Both Nancy and Henri knew she'd be killed if caught. Finally, Nancy accepted that she must flee France. "Henri said 'you have to leave' and I remember going out the door saying I'd do some shopping, that I'd be back soon. And I left and I never saw him again."

Within a year of Nancy leaving, the Gestapo killed Henri in their bid to find his wife.

After several failed attempts, Nancy finally made her way to London and convinced the British government to train her as a professional spy.

Working for the British

Literally dropped back into France, she was responsible for distributing weapons among resistance fighters hiding in the mountains - another dangerous role.

To co-ordinate these deliveries, messages had to be sent via radio phones. One time, Nancy's group lost their radio phone during a raid by German troops. It should have spelt disaster. But Nancy was not one to give up. Instead, she pedalled more than two hundred kilometres to another radio operator. Of all the incredible things she did during the war, Nancy is most proud of this. "I got back and they said "how are you?", I cried. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't sit down. I couldn't do anything. I just cried."

The resistance movement's main job was to weaken the German army so it would fall under a major attack by allied troops. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, all their efforts seemed worthwhile.

Collectables Signed By Nancy Wake