Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Saturday, 13 March 2010

'Despicable' raid at WWII heroine Andree Peel's home

Andree Peel
Resistance heroine Andree Peel died last week aged 105

Burglars have broken into the home of French Resistance heroine Andree Peel, it has emerged.

Mrs Peel, who died last week aged 105, helped save more than 100 Allied pilots and spent her final years in Long Ashton, near Bristol.

A police spokesman said Mrs Peel's house in the village had been broken into some time after she died at her care home.

Her friend Martin Fisher said the burglary was "despicable".

Known as Agent Rose, Mrs Peel helped dozens of British and US pilots escape from occupied Europe.

She moved to the UK after after meeting her future husband John Peel.

Stealing from the dead is low life
Gerald Gregory

Mr Fisher said he reported the burglary to police on Thursday evening.

He said the burglary happened some time between midday on Wednesday and late on Thursday afternoon.

He added: "The police said at the time they thought it was despicable that anybody could even consider such a thing.

"Because it was reported locally and nationally, a lot of people realised the house was empty."

Gerald Gregory, 81, Mrs Peel's neighbour and friend, said: "The thing is, despite the fact she was a war hero, stealing from the dead is low life.

"It made me mad when I found out. The lock was shattered by the force."

He said copies of her autobiography, Miracles do Happen, were among the stolen items.

They were later offered for sale at nearby public houses, he added.

Mrs Peel - who was liberated by US soldiers from Buchenwald concentration camp as she was about to be murdered by a Nazi firing squad - was living at the Lampton House care home in Long Ashton at the time of her death on 5 March.

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