Monday, March 08, 2010

May The Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way To The Summerlands. May Her Friends And Family Know Peace.

When I was a girl, stories such as hers meant the world to me. Women could, it turned out, do more than sleep in a glass casket and wait for the kiss of a Handsome Prince.

A French resistance heroine who saved more than 100 lives and survived a Nazi death squad has died at the age of 105.

Known as Agent Rose, Andree Peel helped dozens of British and US pilots escape from occupied Europe. She lived near Bristol after marrying an Englishman.

Mrs Peel, who lived at Long Ashton, was awarded a second Legion d'Honneur in 2009 to mark her bravery.

. . .

She also received the Croix de Guerre and the American Medal of Freedom.

She was being lined up to be shot by a firing squad at the Buchenwald concentration camp when the US Army arrived to liberate the prisoners.

A former hairdresser from Brittany, Mrs Peel began her involvement with the resistance modestly, by handing out underground newspapers.

Later she tracked troop movements and went on to head an under-section of the movement. Her network allowed Allied pilots to escape German captivity, hiding them and - where possible - smuggling them away from France in submarines and on small boats.

She recounted her wartime experiences in her autobiography Miracles Do Happen, which was published in 1999.

After the war she moved to Paris and met her future husband John Peel.

Mr Peel, an academic, died some years ago and in recent years she formed a partnership with Brian Westaway, a fellow resident at Lambton House retirement home.

Commenting on her death, Dr Liam Fox, Conservative MP for Woodspring, said: "Mrs Peel was an iconic figure who showed phenomenal courage in the most difficult circumstances.

"Her selfless bravery saved many lives and she stands as a monument to the triumph of the human spirit, which will set an example for many generations to come."

The HeraldSun website notes, additionally, that: Peel once said her wartime rescue efforts were driven by a belief she was doing the right thing and all thoughts of her own safety were put aside.

"You don't know what freedom is if you have never lost it," she told the Bristol Evening Post newspaper.

"Everybody was ready to contribute to the fight and to risk their lives.

"The only fear we had was of being tortured and of speaking under torture - I rarely thought of my personal safety, I just acted and did what I believed was the right thing."

British wartime leader Winston Churchill wrote her a personal letter of congratulation - which had to be destroyed once she had read it for security reasons.

And her achievements were honoured with a string of awards. She received a second Legion d'Honneur last year in recognition of her bravery.

She owned a beauty salon in Brest, northwest France, when the Nazis invaded. She joined the resistance movement and as Agent Rose she guided Allied planes to secret landing strips by torchlight.

Thank you, Andree Peel. I will call your name at Samhein. What is remembered, we Witches say, does not die.

1 comment:

Teacats said...

O my Stars! A true brave soul! A noble one! And one of beauty - an uncomparable Rose! She walks in Bright company now! Now her story would make a remarkable mini-series!


Jan at Rosemary Cottage