Dieppe: A French nun affectionately named "the white angel" by the Canadian soldiers she saved during one of the worst disasters to befall Allied forces during World War II has died aged 103, authorities said Saturday.
Sister Agnes-Marie Valois died on Thursday in a monastery, officials in the northern town of Dieppe said. She tended to wounded soldiers in the Dieppe Raid of August 19, 1942, when a 6,000-strong force of mainly Canadian but also British troops briefly seized the Channel port held by the Germans.
More than a thousand men in the allied force died, hundreds were injured and more than 2,000 taken prisoner. Valois stood up to Nazi soldiers to treat the injured, even persuading German officials to tend to some of the wounded and stealing German rations to feed the men.
Her actions earned her the Legion of Honour, France's highest order.
Valois often participated in annual commemorations of the battle, where she was reunited with the men she saved. "They loved her and she loved them. Whenever she met what she called 'my Canadians' she had a great big smile on her face," Tim Fletcher, a retired captain with Canada's Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, told the National Post newspaper.
The raid, codenamed Operation Jubilee, was the first time the Canadian army had engaged in the European theatre of the war. It is enshrined in Canadian history as an episode of great bravery against overwhelming odds.
Born in 1914 in the French city of Rouen to a family of industrialists, she trained as a nurse with the Red Cross before joining the Augustine order in 1936. Dieppe Mayor Nicolas Langlois said she would be remembered by the town, as well as by Canada, as a heroine.