Nancy Wake was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1912. The family moved to Australia in 1914 and after being educated in Sydney she travelled to Europe where she worked as a journalist. In Nazi Germany she saw the rise of Adolf Hitler and Anti-Semitism. On one occasion in Vienna she witnessed Jews being whipped by members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA).
In 1939 Nancy married the wealthy French industrialist, Henri Fiocca, in Marseilles. Nancy was in France when the German Army invaded in May 1940. After the French government surrendered, Nancy joined the French Resistance. She worked with Ian Garrow's group helping British airmen shot down over France to escape back to Britain.
In December 1940 the network was betrayed and Nancy was forced to go into hiding. She continued to work for the French Resistance and was eventually arrested while in Toulouse. However, the authorities did not realize they had captured the woman known as the "White Mouse" and she was released after four days.
It was now too dangerous to remain in occupied France and Nancy crossed the Pyrenees into Spain before travelling to Britain. She now joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and agreed to become a British special agent.
On 29th April 1944, Nancy was parachuted into the Auvergne region of France. Her main objective was to locate local bands of the Maquis and to provide them with the ammunition and arms that were being dropped by parachute by the Royal Air Force four times a week.
Nancy had the task of helping the resistance to prepare for the armed uprising that was due to coincide with the D-Day landings. She also led a raid against the Gestapo headquarters in Mountucon and a German gun factory. Henri Tardivat, one of her comrades in the resistance later said that: "She is the most feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. Then she is like five men."
After the war, Nancy worked for the Intelligence Department at the British Air Ministry. In 1960 she married John Forward and returned to Australia to live.