WWII US Medal of Freedom Recipient: The White Mouse, Nancy Wake (1912 - 2011)

Who Is The White Mouse?

On August 9 2011, the Maori Party of New Zealand paid special honor to one of their native daughters, Nancy Wake, aka The White Mouse. Ms. Wake is a hero of World War II that most people in the world did not know until 2009.

As our WWII veterans die by the thousands each month, we are beginning to realize the importance of their contributions in wartime and the courage of their military service. Non-military support personnel were just as heroic in their everyday tasks. We hsave lost the majority of them without understanding all of their individual stories and accomplishments.

A good starting point for understanding WWII Veterans, their families, and non-military support operations is the book The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw and the follow-up volume The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections. Both volumes describe Americans at home and in the Pacific and European Theaters. Books have no doubt collected stories of WWII era citizens from the UK, Australia, Canada, and other countries.

Historical fiction and home soil tragedy have also emerged from WWII. One example is James Doohan's (Montgomery Scott of Star Trek®) Flight Engineer science fiction novel series. In its characters and stories, he included aspects and events from his own RAF service in WWII. George Takei (Hikaru Sulu) from the same television and film series was held in a Japanese-American internment camp, as was Pat Morita (The Karate Kid). Mr. Takei's experiences are detailed in his autobiography.

Many nations made up the Allies of WWII, including the UK, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, the Philippines, Canada, USA, Mexico, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and some others. Yet, perhaps some individuals think that the participants were only USA, France, and Britain against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Presidential Medal of Freedom, with components.
Presidential Medal of Freedom, with components. | Source

Tribute to New Zealand Patriots

Nancy Wake: SOE's Greatest Heroine
Nancy Wake: SOE's Greatest Heroine

Ms. Wake is a hero of World War II that most people in the world did not know until 2009, when she was awarded the US Congressional Medal of Freedom for her service during WWII. Many nations' service men and women helped win WWII.

 

Women In WWII

In addition to all of this, the role of women in WWII and subsequent wars becomes clearer through the memorial tributes we see in the 2010s.

The world is still home to living WWII veterans in the 2010s, although they are dying by the thousands daily. The veterans of Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Theater are old enough that the 70th Reunion at Pearl Harbor was the last. The leaders of the group planning the yearly venture were veterans themselves and travel was becoming too taxing at 85 or 90+ years of age. We will not forget them, however.

Actor, Director, and Producer Tom Hanks has accomplished much to honor these people through his films Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and others. Not one to ever film commercials with his likeness, he agreed to a single series of commercials that promoted the World War II Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.

The concept of honoring these veterans has been important enough to him to warrant a commercial from him. His work in films and this series of commericials spurred recognition of greater numbers of WWII vetereans than otherwise would have occurred. Further, this recognition and honor has been extended to men and women, Caucasians, Blacks, Native Americaqns, and Asians that served America in WWII.

In the 2010s, we need to bring forward, reco surviving veterans and non-military personnel from WWII, record their stories, pay them respects, and and say "Thanks." We need to do this not only for Americans, but for our Allies. While Americans are familiar with the larger stories of US involvement in the war, many are unaware of the relevant histories of other nations' citizens fighting the Axis Powers - especially UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

The veterans of Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Theater are old enough that the 70th Reunion at Pearl Harbor, the Platinum Anniversary was the last. We will always remember them.

Nancy Wake's Homeland

A markerWellington, New Zealand -
Wellington, New Zealand
[get directions]

Nancy Wake, The White Mouse
Nancy Wake, The White Mouse | Source

From High Society to War Hero in the 1940s

Nancy Wake of New Zealand was the upper crust wife of a wealthy industrial tycoon in 1940 when Adolph Hitler was in France in 1940. No one suspected that she might be or become a spy. However, in 1940, Ms. Wake was in Marseilles, France when Hitler invaded. By 1945 and the end of World War II, she had become the most decorated military woman in the war as a British Agent in the French Resistance. She was awarded a total of 9 medals for bravery from various countries.

She was recognized for:

  • Aiding Jewish refugees escape to Spain, the French military having held them for shipment to Hitler's concentration camps (new films about this released 2011 - 2012),
  • Aiding Allied troops scape to Spain, and
  • Leading 7,000 people of the French Resistance against 22,000 SS troops.

Nancy Wake showed courage and resourcefulness in fighting for freedom. Having died in 2011 at the age of 98, she is an important hero from New Zealand that served the entire world in a horrible war. We recognize her as an integral player in WWII that helped America and all the Allies preserve freedom.

Wake's husband, the rich Frenchman Henri Fiocca, was arrested, tortured, and executed by the German Gestapo, but never revealed anything of Nancy's whereabouts or missions before his death. He and Nancy both served the cause of freedom.

Wellington, New Zealand Today

Source

Medal of Honor Winners of All Races

  • American World War II Medal of Honor Recipients - Our WWII Veterans site was created as a tribute our Veterans. We include personal veteran's stories, photos of Tuskegee Airman, Code Talkers, Posters from WWII and more! We also have a listing of WW II Medal of Honor Recipients
  • Women in World War II Services - Gold Medal Winners - Reading Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation and its sequels leads us to dig for more about the men and women of that generation and their contributions to defending America in world War II.
  • Native American Medal of Honor Winners - Many Native Americans served in the US Military Services during WWII and won the Medal of Honor and its associated pension. Not all Native American Servicemen were Code Talkers and not all Code Talkers were Navajo.
  • NMAI Code Talkers - Navajo were not the only Code Talkers. The code was recently declassified and interesting to see.
  • Official Site of the Navajo Code Talkers - Known as Navajo Code Talkers, they were young Navajo men who transmitted secret communications on the battlefields of WWII.
  • Tuskegee Airmen Website - A foundation dedicated to preserving the history of America's first black military airmen. Provides history and information about the airmen,
  • Tuskegee Airmen - The history of a Tuskegee Airman in WWII.
  • Japanese American Medal of Honor Winners

WWII History

To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr. Sulu
To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr. Sulu

Takei and his family were placed into Japanese Internment Camps in the USA during WWII, along with other future famous actors like Pat Morita. Several Japanese Americans received the Medal of Honor for their efforts during WWII in the American military forces.

 

© 2011 Patty Inglish

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Comments 9 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

My grandparents and their siblings were in WWII either in battle or oat home-both sides of my family (one side American, one side Canadian). Both of Dad's parents, and all aunts and uncles are dead with the exception of a much younger sibling of my grandfather. My grandmother will likely die before she turns 93 and she is the last of her generation on my Mom's side. All of dad's family was in battle. But on mom's side, one uncle was working in a factory making planes and another member was a flight instructor.


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

Patty, what wonderful tribute to a great patriot, and the many patriots who served in the war. We need to remember them and what they did so we don't repeat this tragedy again. These are the people we come from and we need to honor their memories by keeping freedom alive and well. Thanks Patty,

Peter


Charlene Mariano 5 years ago

Great hub! I remembered my grandfather while reading this hub. You see my grandfather too was part of the bolo men (a resistance group of Filipinos in the Ilocos Norte, Philippines against Japanese occupation in WWII. He told me stories when I was a child about WWII and how he and his comrades had to kill so that their families could survived from Japanese Oppression. Sadly, here in my country, some war veterans like my grandfather was never compensated for their sacrifices after the war.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

I saw a movie some time ago similar to Nancy Wakes story. Not quite sure if it was based on her and I can't remember the name of it either. Thank you for another enlightening hub Patty. Any country should honor their war Vets because without them our country would not have been afforded the freedoms we now have.


Earth Angel 5 years ago

Blessings and greetings to you Gentle Soul on this Labor Day !

What a lovely tribute to White Mouse! Thank you so very much for bringing this less told story to light!

You are the best! And a White Mouse yourself! Earth Angel!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I'm not as slick as the White Mouse, but then, I've not been in such a vital position! - perhaps I would become even more secretly invisible than I am today. Anyway, she is a hero to me, Earth Angel.

Thanks for these lovely comments on the holiday!

In my part of the Midwest, we visit the cemeteries on Labor Day and pay repsects to loved ones and veterans resting there. I guess we do this on all holidays.

On Labor Day, the veterans' groups usually have special events as well, including parades and picnics with live music. Then the Native American Indian Association in my city sponsors a large regional Pow Wow on Labor Day as well, with an honor guard of native veterans.

This is one of my favorite holidays and I like learning about veterans from other countries. Hubber jimmythejock has pointed out several of them on HubPages.

Have a safe and pleasant Labor Day!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Your Labor Day is similar to our Heroes Day here in Jamaica, celebrated October 18, every year. I am really looking forward to it, one of my favorite holidays.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

What a woman!! This was quite the interesting read.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

Excellent, excellent, EXCELLENT!!!! I like the credit you gave to her spouse as well. I feel that often the partner of an activist is the essential cog that keeps life, her cover, etc... working so that the other is freed to do the heroics.

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