World War II
After the German invasion she joined the resistance and was involved in distributing secret newspapers but was later appointed head of an under-section of the resistance. She and her team used torches to guide allied planes to improvised landing strips and helped airmen who had landed in France to escape onto submarines and gunboats, saving the lives of more than one hundred soldiers and airmen, and aided more than 20,000 people.
She was arrested in Paris in 1944 and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp; she was later transferred to the concentration camp at Buchenwald before her eventual release. During this time she also survived meningitis. She was being lined up to be shot by firing squad at Buchenwald when the US Army arrived to liberate the prisoners.
After the war
After the war, she met her future husband, an English academic named John Peel (who at the time was still a student), while working in a restaurant in Paris, and they settled in Long Ashton, near Bristol, several years later. The couple had no children. While living in Long Ashton, Andrée received many visits from admirers and also managed to relieve the pain of visitors who had injuries.
Mrs. Peel received many decorations from the French government for her resistance work, and she was awarded the Order of Liberation by France, the Medal of Freedom by the United States and the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct by Britain. During the war she received a personal letter of appreciation from Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
She received the Légion d'honneur from her brother, four-star General Maurice Virot, in 2004. On February 3, 2005, she received a note from the Queen as she had just turned 100 years old. In 2010 she turned 105 and fractured her hip two weeks later after a bad fall and had to undergo surgery. She died peacefully at the Lampton House nursing home on 5 March 2010.
Woodspring MP Liam Fox paid tribute to Mrs Peel, saying: "Mrs 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."
Her house was broken into sometime between the 10th and 11 of March 2010, and several items were stolen, including copies of her autobiography. Police suspect that it was because of the widespread knowledge of her death after reporting in local and national newspapers.
Her autobiography, Miracles Do Happen, ISBN 978-1874316374, was published in French as Miracles Existent! (English version translated by Evelyn Scott Brown). It has been made into a film by William Ennals.
- Medal of Freedom
- Medal of the Resistance
- Ordre de la Libération
- Knight of the Légion d'honneur in 1967, promoted to Officer in 2004
- King's Commendation for Brave Conduct
- Croix de guerre (with palm)
- "Décret du 16 avril 2004 portant promotion et nomination". JORF. 2004 (91): 7067. 2004-04-17. DEFM0400331D. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
- "French Resistance heroine celebrates 104th birthday". London: Telegraph.co.uk. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- "French war heroine film tribute". BBC News. BBC. 2008-07-27. Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- "War heroine toasts 104th birthday". BBC News. BBC. 2009-02-04. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- "Century for former French fighter". BBC News. BBC. 2005-02-03. Archived from the original on 8 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- Her "Find A Grave" page (includes early photo)
- Hip operations for war heroine Agent Rose, 105[permanent dead link]
- WWII heroine Andree Peel dies in Long Ashton aged 105
- obituary in The Daily Telegraph (with two early pictures)
- "Lasting Tribute to Andree Peel". Associated Northcliffe Digital. Retrieved 2009-03-11.[dead link]
- 'Despicable' raid at WWII heroine Andree Peel's home
- "Miracles do happen". Loebertas. Retrieved 2009-02-04.