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During World War II, when the Germans invaded France, Peel was a hairdresser with her own salon in Brest. She joined the French Resistance, passing details of German naval installations, troop movements, and other information to the Allies. Known as “Agent Rose”, she helped guide British and American airmen who had been shot down to the coast, so they could be picked up by boats or submarines. She estimated she helped rescue more than 100 airmen. After three years, she was betrayed, and fled to Paris under a new name, but she was betrayed there, too, and arrested by the Gestapo. She was tortured for information (her resulting injuries pained her for life), and sent to the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbruck. She was later transferred to Buchenwald, where she was to be shot by firing squad. As the firing squad arrived to shoot her and other prisoners, American troops warned them off, and liberated the camp. After the war, she received many honors from France, including the Legion of Honor (awarded by her brother, a four-star general), the American Medal of Freedom (awarded by President Eisenhower), and the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct (given by Britain’s George VI). She died after breaking her hip in a nursing home in Britain on March 5, at 105.
From This is True for 14 March 2010
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