Andrée Peel, Rescuer of Allied Airmen, Dies at 105. Andree Peel, (born Andrée Marthe Virot) who was known as Agent Rose, helped 102 British and American pilots escape from her native France. ‘She was the most highly decorated woman to survive the conflict and was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by her brother, General Maurice Virot.
Mrs Peel was awarded the War Cross with palm, the War Cross with purple star, the medal of the Resistance and the Liberation cross. She also received the American Medal of Freedom from US President Dwight Eisenhower, as well as the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct, presented to her by King George VI.’
‘She fed information to the Allies on German shipping and troop movements and on the results of Allied bombing in the region. She also guided British planes carrying intelligence agents to nighttime landings at secret airstrips marked by torchlight.’
‘She was best remembered for playing an important role in the rescue of 102 Allied airmen, by her account, in a network that set up safe houses for fliers on the run from the Germans and then took the men to isolated sections of the Brest beaches, where they boarded boats transporting them to England.’
When the Germans learned of her resistance work she fled to Paris, but she was arrested by the Gestapo shortly after the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
She was beaten and tortured, then imprisoned at the Ravensbrück and Buchenwald concentration camps. She was about to be killed by a firing squad at Buchenwald when it was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
“I saved 102 pilots before being arrested, interrogated and tortured, I suffer still from that. I still have the pain.”
‘On Feb. 3 she celebrated her 105th birthday at her nursing home. Wearing 11 decorations for valor on her blouse, she was presented with a cake decorated with the French flag and sang the French national anthem.’
She wrote an autobiography recounting her WWII experiences “Miracles Do Happen” and it was made into a film.