Badge of Gold for Nancy Wake
Wellington-born Nancy Wake, 94, now living in a London rest home, has been awarded the NZ Returned Services Association’s highest honour, the RSA Badge in Gold, as well as life membership for her work with the French resistance during the war. Other recipients include Britain’s wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, World War II soldiers Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma, Lieutenant General Lord Freyberg, Major General Sir Howard Kippenberger, two monarchs and the Duke of Edinburgh. Nancy Wake was the most decorated servicewoman of World War II. She was awarded nine medals, including the George Medal from Britain, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, the Croix de Guerre (twice), the Medaille de la Resistance from France, the Medal of Freedom with Palm from America and in 2004 the Companion of the Order of Australia. The RSA said as a saboteur and resistance organiser and fighter, the feisty woman led an army of 7,000 Marquis troops in guerrilla warfare against the Nazis in France. She was instrumental in the rescue, escape and repatriation of more than 1,000 Allied servicemen from behind enemy lines. She was known to have killed many Germans, including one with her bare hands. Miss Wake moved to Australia at an early age and in her early 20s moved to Paris to work as a journalist.