The world has lost an inspirational and courageous woman with the passing of World War II resistance leader Nancy Wake, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Judith Collins said today.
Wake, who was known as the White Mouse, died in a London hospital yesterday aged 98.
Born in Wellington, she was the Allies' most decorated WWII servicewoman for her work with the French Resistance. Although claimed by the Australians, Nancy Wake was born in New Zealand and returned to visit family when a teenager.
“I am greatly saddened by news of the death of this inspirational New Zealander,” Ms Collins said.
“Nancy Wake was a woman of exceptional courage and tenacity, who cast aside all regard for her own safety and put the cause of freedom first.
“When she chose to return to France during the war as a resistance leader, she would have known that her chances of survival were remote.
“Her work setting up vital escape routes while being hunted by the Gestapo, helped save the lives of thousands of Allied servicemen.
“Nancy’s achievements have always been acknowledged by her colleagues past and present in the Special Forces.
“Her death will deeply affect many veterans who will view her passing with a great sense of loss.”