The Mouse Who Roared

Nancy_Wake

They couldn’t catch her.

The White Mouse

Beneath her immaculate red fingernails, fur coats and love for gin and tonic, Ms Wake was a courageous and ruthless warrior.  General Dwight Eisenhower once said Wake alone was worth five army divisions.  “I have only one thing to say: I killed a lot of Germans, and I am only sorry I didn’t kill more,” Ms Wake famously said of her wartime exploits.

With a roar that makes both her name and nickname seem quaintly ironic this is Nancy at 89: “Somebody once asked me, ‘Have you ever been afraid?’ … Hah! I’ve never been afraid in my life.”

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, Crafter Artisan, (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011) served as a British agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies’ most decorated servicewomen of the war. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head.

After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. On the night of 29–30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 SS soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while taking only 100 themselves. [Wikipedia,revised]

 Nancy Wake’s interview

She was much younger than her brothers and sisters, and strongly independent. Born in New Zealand.

“I was a loner and I had a good imagination.”

She was a rebel, in particular shunning her mother’s strict religious beliefs.  Wake was raised without affection by her embittered mother after her father had walked out on them.

“I adored my father,” Wake recently told the Sunday Times, sitting on her bar stool with a walking stick in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other. “He was very good-looking. But he was a bastard. He went to New Zealand to make a movie about the Maoris, and he never came back. He sold our house from under us and we were kicked out.”

In 1928, at the age of 16, Nancy commenced work as a nurse. In 1932, she inherited some money and immediately used it to travel to London, then mainland Europe to train and work as a journalist. One of her early assignments was to interview Adolph Hitler. In the same year, she visited Vienna and witnessed the impact of the Nazi regime first hand. She later recounted:

“The stormtroopers had tied the Jewish people up to massive wheels. They were rolling the wheels along, and the stormtroopers were whipping the Jews. I stood there and thought, ‘I don’t know what I’ll do about it, but if I can do anything one day, I’ll do it.’ And I always had that picture in my mind, all through the war.”

Slowly but surely Nancy drew herself into the fight. In 1940 she joined the embryonic resistance movement as a courier, smuggling messages and food to underground groups in Southern France. She also bought an ambulance and used it to help refugees fleeing the German advance.

As the beautiful wife of a wealthy businessman, she had an ability to travel in a way that few others could contemplate. She obtained false papers that allowed her to stay and work in the Vichy zone in occupied France. She became deeply involved in helping to spirit a thousand or more escaped prisoners of war and downed Allied fliers out of France. Although she was judged to be unruly, her exuberant spirits and physical daring were thought “good for morale”.

Like all the Artisans, Crafters are people who love action, and who know instinctively that their activities are more enjoyable, and more effective, if done impulsively, spontaneously, subject to no schedules or standards but their own. [Please Understand Me II]

By 1942, the Gestapo had become aware of an unidentified agent that was proving to be a significant thorn in their side. They code named the agent ‘the white mouse‘  because the agent kept slipping between the cracks and avoiding capture and they listed her as number one on their wanted list, attracting a five million franc reward.

When the underground network was betrayed that same year, she decided to flee Marseille.

Escape was not easy. She made six attempts to get out of France by crossing the Pyrenees into Spain. On one of these attempts she was captured by the French Milice (Vichy militia) in Toulouse and interrogated for four days. She held out, refusing to give the Milice any information, and with the help of the legendary ‘Scarlet Pimpernel of WWII’, Patrick O’Leary, tricked her captors into releasing her.

Wake’s dramatic life story and her feisty, courageous personality made her the ideal subject for documentaries and dramatisations. She tells her own story with interviews, reconstructions, stills and film footage in Nancy Wake – Code Name: The White Mouse.

In 1987 a television mini-series was made about her life. However the subject was irritated by historical liberties that were taken with her life story, such as showing her having an affair while working for the Resistance in Auvergne:

“What do you think my bosses in England would have thought, all those thousands of pounds to train me and for me to go and have an affair. Really! The mini-series was well-acted but in parts it was extremely stupid. At one stage they had me cooking eggs and bacon to feed the men. For goodness sake did the Allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men? There wasn’t an egg to be had for love nor money, and even if there had been why would I be frying it when I had men to do that sort of thing?”

Nancy Wake’s comrade Henri Tardivat perhaps best characterised the guerrilla chieftain: “She is the most feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. Then, she is like five men.”

openquoteFreedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work I used to think it didn’t matter if I died, because without freedom there was no point in living.closedquote — Nancy Wake

Other examples of Crafter Artisans include:  Karen FinermanClarissa ShieldsChelsea BakerLarry BirdKatherine HepburnBruce LeeJay-ZMickey RourkeLisa PresleyTatum and Ryan O’Neal and Michael Jordan.

Gold and Diamonds

coin_crown

He did not want to do it, but he had to do his duty.

He wasn’t anything like his brother.

His brother was popular, handsome and witty, and well-spoken, and King.

Albert, wasn’t well spoken like his older brother, David  — in fact, Albert was considered rather dull compared to David —  Albert stuttered badly.

But,

All that is Gold, does not Glitter.

and She is Albert’s daughter.

It was evident from the start that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was a dutiful daughter.

In Albert, King George VI‘s, reign characterized by war, social change and the beginnings of the dissolution of the British Empire, he was a successful king who raised the prestige of the monarchy, after he was propelled into the limelight, that he did not seek.  He left his daughter  Elizabeth, a stable throne and diamond studded Crown, but also a world heating up with a Cold War.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

NETFLIX has a new British period drama series chronicling the Reign Queen Elizabeth II.

The Crown

Family, country, and duty is of prime importance to the Guardians.

 

It was evident from the start that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was a dutiful daughter.

On her 21st birthday, before she was Queen, she had decided to pledge to do her duty: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

Other Inspector Guardian blogs: Lily LedbetterTrust Me, The Real Iron Lady.

Booking Thru Life

Adventures of a Viking Reading Bystander

The curtain rises on the scene
With someone shouting to be free
The play unfolds before my eyes
There stands the actor who is me

Enryo (遠慮) is one of the most quintessential Japanese concepts.  “Restraining speech/actions towards people” (「人に対して言語・行動を控え目にすること」).

A Stranger in a Strangeland.

img_0068

world_we_live_in_bindHow could that be?

I was born on top of the world.  The middle class, white suburbs in Southern California, in 1950.  White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant heritage: (that dreaded 21st century epithet WASP).

Then, Why a stranger in a strangeland?

There were hills that I couldn’t climb when I was young. I was sheltered by my dreams, now stellated mirrors in the sun.

Everybody: just like me?

Continue reading

The Golden Voice

“He is a just a kid, but he is going to be the great broadcaster,” I remember that is what  Red said about him in 1958.

You were right, Red: The Greatest Sportscaster ever.

Ok, I am biased.  I am from Southern California born in 1950.  It was a slower time, a simpler time for us kids.

He has been a Sportscaster ALL MY LIFETIME, he has been my favorite Sportscaster ALL MY LIFE ever since I became aware of the outside world of sports.  But EVERYBODY agrees with me.  (They better).

“It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good (afternoon/evening) to you, wherever you may be.”

In 1958 and onward that Golden Voice was heard by us in Southern California.  Koufax, Wills, The Duke…  Sutton, Garvey, Fernando, Hershiser…

There were few constants in the world.

play-by-play-announcer-vin-scully

Continue reading

The Man for the Fall Season

He lost. They didn’t elect him.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

 In fact, he lost partially because of his efforts in behalf the nation.  However, it hasn’t been widely recognized that the most impactful, beneficial, and long lasting effect of his decision, wasn’t the decision that he is known for, reviled for, and awarded for.

vietnamese refugees 1975

“All that is gold does not glitter”

Continue reading

What is the Presidency For?

“Then, what the hell is the presidency for!”
 “I have the power, now, and I intend to use it.”
— Lyndon Baines Johnson

HBO, All the way

Politics is War.

HBO premiered the movie “All the Way” on May 21. It is great film where Four Temperaments are clearly shown in action.

“November 22, 1963: John F. Kennedy was dead in Dallas, killed by an assassin. Jacqueline Kennedy, her clothes still spattered with her husband’s blood, stood beside Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson as Johnson took the presidential oath of office. Camelot was suddenly and shockingly gone. In the passage of a few jolting hours, King Arthur had been replaced by the crude, graceless, but equally energetic Lyndon Johnson, a professional politician from Texas.”  [Presidential Temperament]

LBJ_1
Continue reading

Transformation: Swimming Across the Universe

A corporation is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin. Methods have to change. Focus has to change. Values have to change. The sum total of those changes is transformation.”  — Andy Grove

moore_noyce_grove

In Memoriam: Andy Grove
2 September 1936 – 21 March 2016

Andy Grove was noted for making sure that important details were never missed.  Having a strategic vision helps in recognizing the important factors.

He had survived by getting things right in the long term and transforming himself.

“By the time I was twenty, I had lived through a Hungarian Fascist dictatorship, German military occupation, the Nazis’ “Final Solution,” the siege of Budapest by the Soviet Red Army, a period of chaotic democracy in the years immediately after the war, a variety of repressive Communist regimes, and a popular uprising that was put down at gunpoint. . . [where] many young people were killed; countless others were interned. Some two hundred thousand Hungarians escaped to the West. I was one of them.

Even though he arrived in the United States with little money and not knowing English, Grove retained a “passion for learning.”  He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the City College of New York in 1960, followed by a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963.

“Probably no one person has had a greater influence in shaping Intel, Silicon Valley, and all we think about today in the technology world than Andy Grove.” — Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware

Continue reading

Cultural Wind Jammer

I have the impression that some ways must be left behind, some mental habits must be abandoned, if we are not to clip the wings of progress. Even to science we must sometimes repeat Charon’s cry: By another way, by other ports, not here, you will find passage across the shore. In my role as teacher I hope to be able to show you other ways, if not other ports. — Giuseppe Vitali

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” — William James

Bill Thomas has been described as a Cultural Jammer: trying to change the American attitudes towards aging.

In 1991, Bill Thomas, having been an emergency room doctor, became the medical director of a nursing home in upstate New York. He found the place, as the Washington Post put it, “depressing, a repository for old people whose minds and bodies seemed dull and dispirited.”

Continue reading

Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

Is not a good idea.

So says her, and she should know:  she has done the research.

It’s complicated, and there are no panaceas.

Real Complex.  It’s hard work.

Politicians, Lawyers, Journalists, and the Public at large love simple explanations and simple solutions: let the Government or the Market solve it.

Simple Solutions for Complex Problems: NOT A GOOD IDEA.  Many Simple Solutions are Fast Ideas.

Rather it’s communication: both cooperative and competitive.

Her ideas are slow ideas: complicated. And the world took awhile to recognize them.  She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics three years before her death.

“Lin Ostrom cautioned against single governmental units at global level to solve the collective action problem of coordinating work against environmental destruction. Partly, this is due to their complexity, and partly to the diversity of actors involved. Her proposal was that of a polycentric approach, where key management decisions should be made as close to the scene of events and the actors involved as possible.”

Continue reading

Observant

She was very observant.
She was very determined.

“I never gave up and I never let anyone or anything get in my way.”

vernon1

“It was very difficult when we came to New York because I spoke no English. We moved to a neighborhood with many other German and Jewish immigrants but I mostly befriended Americans since that was the easiest and quickest way to learn the culture, language, and customs of my new homeland.”

“She seems to be able of growing enormous by sheer force of will,”

Continue reading