Page last updated at 19:02 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

WWII heroine Andree Peel dies in Long Ashton aged 105


Resistance heroine dies aged 105

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.

After the war she received a personal letter from Winston Churchill congratulating her on her work.

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.

'Phenomenal courage'

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."

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