Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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    Nancy Wake, 1945, courtesy of Australian War Memorial.


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Wake, Nancy Grace Augusta (1912 - 2011)


30 August 1912
Wellington, New Zealand
7 August 2011
London, England
Alternative Names
  • Forward, Nancy (married name)


Nancy Wake, whom the Gestapo code-named "the White Mouse" was the Allies' most decorated servicewoman of World War II. The youngest of six children, Nancy Wake came to Australia with her parents when she was 20 months old. In the early 1930s she went first to England and then Paris as a freelance journalist and there met and married Henri Fiocca, a wealthy French industrialist. When the French government surrendered, after the German Army invaded in May 1940, Nancy Wake joined the French Resistance working as a courier and saboteur. For these 'special operations in France' Wake was awarded the George Medal (17 July 1945). Wake worked for the Intelligence Department at the British Air Ministry, after the war. She married John Forward, in 1957, before returning to Australia to live. In December 2001, Nancy Wake left Port Macquarie, New South Wales to live in Europe.

On 22 February 2004 Nancy Wake was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia. The award recognises the significant contribution and commitment of Nancy Wake, stemming from her outstanding actions in wartime, in encouraging community appreciation and understanding of the past sacrifices made by Australian men and women in times of conflict, and to a lasting legacy of peace.

Nancy Wake moved to London to live in 2001. She died there, in Kingston Hospital on 7 August 2011.



30 August 1912
Born: daughter of C A Wake
1936 - 1939
Freelance journalist Europe
married Henri Fiocca (dec. 1943)
1940 - 1943
Member Allied Escape Route Organisation Occupied France
1943 - 1945
Captain FANY
1946 - 1948
Executive Officer British Foreign Office attached to Embassies Paris and Prague
1952 - 1958
WRAF officer Air Ministry London (Intelligence)
married John Forward (dec. 1997)
Author of The White Mouse
Officer Legion d'Honneur (Chevalier 1970)
Left Australia to live in London
22 February 2004 -
Appointed Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Sources used to compile this entry: accessed 03/04/2002; accessed 03/04/2002 and Who's Who 2002. Also 'Nancy Wake' in 'Australia', Behind the News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2002 (webpage since disabled); and Peter Millett and Jackie Millett, The Story of Nancy Wake - The White Mouse, Coffs Harbour RSL Sub-Branch, (webpage accessed 1 February 2002, since disabled).

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • [Biographical cuttings on Nancy Wake, French Resistance worker]; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details
  • [Biographical cuttings on Nancy Wake-Forward, resistance fighter during World War II]; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Digital resources

Nancy Wake
Australian War Memorial


Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124