French Resistance Heroine Andree Peel Dies At 105

By: Jill Lawless - AP Writer
By: Jill Lawless - AP Writer

LONDON (AP) - Andree Peel, a member of the World War II Resistance who is credited with saving the lives of more than 100 Allied airmen in Nazi-occupied France, has died at 105.

Peel died at a care home in Bristol, southwest England, facility manager Sherry Kitchen said Monday. She did not disclose the cause of Peel's death on Friday.

Born Andree Virot in France in 1905, Peel was running a beauty salon in the port city of Brest when the Nazis invaded in 1940. She joined the Resistance, initially distributing clandestine newspapers.

Under the code name Agent Rose, she helped dozens of British and American pilots escape from Nazi-occupied territory onto submarines and gunboats, and also guided Allied planes to secret landing strips.

Captured by the Nazis, she was imprisoned at the Ravensbruck and Buchenwald concentration camps. She later recalled how she was being lined up to be shot by a firing squad when U.S. troops arrived to liberate the inmates in April 1945.

After the war, Virot met her future husband, British academic John Peel, and moved to England.

She celebrated her 105th birthday in February with a party at her care home attended by friends and dignitaries, with a cake in the colors of the French tricolor flag.

"She was an absolutely incredible lady. We shall miss her amazingly," Kitchen said.

Peel was much honored for her wartime bravery. She was thanked personally by Winston Churchill and awarded the French Legion of Honor, the King's Commendation for Brave Conduct and the Croix de Guerre.

She recorded her remarkable story in an autobiography, "Miracles Do Happen."

Her husband predeceased her. The couple had no children. She is survived by members of her extended family in France.

Funeral details were not immediately available.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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