Nancy Wake was an heroic figure who worked for the French underground resistance movement during World War Two. This story highlights her fearless resistance and the bold risks she took when rescuing people from Hitler’s Nazi regime. It will not only be useful for students studying the world wars, but also for those interested in real life heroines.
Nancy’s personal life is briefly described including her beginnings in New South Wales, Australia, her marriage to Henri Fiocca and her pet dog, “Picon” which will appeal to children. We read about the beginnings of Nancy’s anti-Hitler role when she disliked seeing the Brown Shirts of Hitler beating Jewish people in the streets, and that ‘right then and there’ she made up her mind to do everything she could to damage and hurt the Nazis. So ‘might is right’ is shown as a negative human trait.
The true story goes as follows : After the invasion of France by Germany, Nancy actively sought out people who were against Hitler’s ‘new order.’ Her role in providing help to allied airmen, British soldiers in hiding, and Jewish refugees fleeing persecution was successful, and soon she helped over 1,000 people escape Hitler’s regime. This got her nicknamed ‘the white mouse’ and she became the most wanted woman in Germany by the Gestapo.
Illustrations by author Peter Gouldthorpe bring the story to life with thin-lined etchings in stark black and white interspersed with color, giving a feeling of the very real brutality of war. Children will learn about how the Gestapo tracked Nancy down by tapping her phone and her subsequent interrogation and being put in a stinking, open-pit toilet for four days.
Later, as the story progresses, we witness her self-defence training in weaponry and her time in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in which she learned how to blow up trains, make explosives, and other methods of self-defence including how to attack with her bare hands.
Read on to find out about why she rode single-handedly across France over 500 kilometres, whether she reunited with her husband and Picon, and how she fared by the end of the war.
A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time wife and mother of two.