French resistance heroine who saved over 100 lives dies





A French resistance heroine who saved over 100 lives and survived a Nazi firing squad has died at her English care home aged 105.

Andree Peel - known as Agent Rose - helped a string of British and American pilots flee occupied Europe.
Winston Churchill wrote her a personal letter of congratulation, which had to be destroyed once she had read it for security reasons. She was awarded a second Legion d'Honneur last year in recognition of her bravery.

Born Andree Virot, she moved to England after meeting future husband John Peel.

Mrs Peel, who died on Friday, had been living at the Lampton House care home in Long Ashton, Bristol.
Manager Sherry Kitchen said: ''We are all a bit shell-shocked here. She was lovely - an amazing character with such a strong spirit.''

At the time of the Nazi invasion, Ms Virot owned a beauty salon in Brest, France.

She 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 famous movement.
As Agent Rose, she guided Allied planes to makeshift landing strips, using torches. Dozens of airmen were then smuggled on to submarines and gunboats across the coast.

She spent three years with the Resistance and recounted her experiences in her autobiography Miracles Do Happen.

She spent time in two concentration camps, saying her harrowing experiences helped her work as a healer.
Mrs Peel recalled coming close to death three times, with the danger persisting right up to her rescue from Buchenwald.

Facing a death squad there, she was spared when they fled from approaching American forces. Agent Rose was arrested a week after D-Day in Paris - having fled there when the Brest operation was targeted by the Gestapo.

At her 105th birthday party in February, her niece Marie Andree said the veteran had no children as she was in her 40s when she married.
Although her husband died some years ago, she later found companionship with Brian Westaway, a fellow Lampton House resident.

She once said: "You don't know what freedom is if you have never lost it. 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."

She added that she still felt 50, and that "time had forgotten her".

Other honours given to her were the Liberation Cross, War Cross with palm, the War Cross with purple star, the American Medal of Freedom and the Medal of the Resistance.



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