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]

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Did What Is Right

According to his own conscience.

Which was against his country’s norms at the time.

A Man for All Seasons.

 

“You want to know about my motivation, don’t you? Well. It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes. Also, I felt at that time, that the Japanese government did not have any uniform opinion in Tokyo. Some Japanese military leaders were just scared because of the pressure from the Nazis; while other officials in the Home Ministry were simply ambivalent.

People in Tokyo were not united. I felt it silly to deal with them. So, I made up my mind not to wait for their reply. I knew that somebody would surely complain about me in the future. But, I myself thought this would be the right thing to do. There is nothing wrong in saving many people’s lives….The spirit of humanity, philanthropy…neighborly friendship…with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation—and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage.”

Yes, There is the banality of evil.

And, Yes, he probably did pay for his life-saving kindness.  He had a tough life,  but the approximately 20,000 descendents of the individuals who he helped are glad that he did the right thing, in his own mind.

Others could not, and more importantly, did not do the same.  But, it was a natural thing, FOR HIM.  It’s called personality: Character AND Temperament, two sides of the same coin.  You cannot separate them.  It is a whole.

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Thousands

“I am sorry, I am trying to take the youngest first, I want to save a nation.”

He failed to save a nation.  But he did save thousands, ten thousands, maybe even up to one hundred thousand.

“He was the most tireless, persistent, stubborn person — he was single minded in his determination for his mission.”

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Of the Greatest Generation

He never wanted to talk about what he had seen.

He was typical of his generation, they just didn’t talk about it.

That is strange because he made a good living by talking. Or more accurately, reporting what he thought. He was a writer above all else. He was probably the most famous curmudgeon of all time.

He would complain. Like clockwork. For nigh thirty three years, every week, for a few minutes. Probably the best and funniest complainer on American TV.

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