Heroine of the French resistance dies aged 105

A FRENCH resistance heroine who saved over 100 lives has died at her English care home aged 105.

Andree Peel – known as Agent Rose – survived a Nazi firing squad and 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.

She was being lined up to be shot by firing squad at Buchenwald when the US Army arrived to liberate the prisoners.

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

Ms Peel, who died on Friday, had been living at the Lampton House care home in Long Ashton.

Manager Sherry Kitchen said yesterday: “We are all a bit shell-shocked here. She was lovely – an amazing character with such a strong spirit.”

Commenting on her death, Dr Liam Fox, Conservative MP for Woodspring, said: “Ms 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.”

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 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.

Ms Peel recalled coming close to death three times, with the danger persisting right up to her rescue from Buchenwald.

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