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Nancy Wake, WW2 Australian Heroine – A Timeless Role Model

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 11, 2011

In my own country, Australia, but in other countries too, there is mourning for one of the most magnificent and most highly-decorated war heroines that any country has produced – Nancy Wake. An Australian in the French Resistance, a courier, spy, and fighter against Nazi Germany, she fought behind the lines in France.

Nancy Wake, Great Australian Heroine of The French Resistance, World War II.

The Gestapo code-named her ‘the White Mouse’, referring to her extreme elusiveness in the field. Before the outbreak of war, she saw Jews bound to massive wheels in Vienna, on which they were whipped. She vowed that she would do something to expose such vicious inhumanity.

To those whom I have been addressing in my last blogs, for example the Sathya Sai college boys (now long adult), I commend that they read even the briefest of the abundant news articles in the world news since last Sunday, when she died aged 98. Perhaps they might be challenged to consider that it is by honest, decisive, strong action, rather than by cover up behind flowery words and sweet smiles, that society can be changed for the better.

Since I was sixteen, I loved reading of India’s great freedom fighters, and a delight of my life would be to find that my former students among the many boys I taught at the Sri Sathya Sai College in Whitefield (Kadugodi or Belatur to be more precise), via Bangalore, South India, had, at last, turned out even the slightest bit like these heroic figures. Frankly – apart from some exceptions – I have my grave doubts.

From where I stand, I see that, after all these years of their glacial silence about the sexual and other crimes that they know have been perpetrated against either themselves or others who were around them, they have not honoured the words that they were so fond uttering – such as the telling of the truth, fearlessly. Or conjoining word and deed in right conduct. Or showing compassion for those who suffer. Or suporting those who have raised, and continue to raise, their voices.

True enough, different people come out of trauma at different rates of recovery. But I think that this fact, although true, can also be made one of the worst excuses for inaction, which allows perpetuation of the injustices.

I would like to see those ‘old boys’ get a bit of a wriggle on, and realize that they are immature boys no longer, but grown men who need, by now, to have developed a sense of social and moral responsibility. I would like to see them come good and make a courageous attempt to redress some of the great wrong that they were so profoundly enmeshed in.

Such an example of the ‘right action’ that Sai Baba so often preached about, but did not practise, would justify my old and great hope in my teaching period at the college (1978-79) that these fellows would one day become men of spirit, strength and integrity.

Some of their peers are responding to the sort of conscience call that Robert Priddy and I have put out (and, from the very beginning of the Sai cult exposure, Glen Meloy and Hari Sampath and other former devotees from various professions, trades and cultural backgrounds).

This is to say – for these ex-students to be plucky enough to make a clean breast concerning the gross and evil culture of sexual abuse, the hiding, the secrecy, the bullying, the bribery, and the bad faith that have existed in the deeply corrupted Sathya Sai system of education. Many of these former students know that things were not right. They are still not right. They know that both the Indian and international leadership of the Sathya Sai Organization have profoundly covered up the many scandals. Even though Sai Baba is dead, his co-abusers are still very much alive, many of them in positions of great power. Some of them were intimate participants in the ammoral sty that Sathya Sai Baba built and operated, aided by certain of his teachers and others, in the spurious name of some sort of divine experience.

One may hope that intelligence, if not conscience, comes to the fore before subpoenas start having to be slapped. We are on the way. (See my recent blogs).

They know perfectly well that many boys (among them the so-called ‘form boys’, or homosexual pets) were often and repeatedly sexually abused. And that there were other cruel and unusual practices. Boys who were well-informed knew of various cover ups. Some knew of the faking of materializations, and of the way in which Sai Baba and his servitors would set up wealthy individuals from various countries so as, stealthily, to extract large donations and favours of various kinds. They knew that boys, and now and then a teacher, had been cruelly cast aside like rag dolls when their use as sexual playthings was over. Some know, more recently of Sathya Sai Baba’s fits of sobbing. They knew of towering fits of rage – which boys and well-informed parents and others in more inner circles round Sai Baba passed off as, for example, “Swami in his Shiva aspect”, etc., etc. Some knew that terribly concerned parents from various countries withdrew their boys from the college.

In my mind’s eye and ear, I still see and hear those boys whom Sathya Sai Baba hand-picked to give talks endlessly, like he himself, extolling fearlessness in speaking the truth. However, from where I stand, there are plenty of those with their heads still – after all these years – ducking for cover. Still enjoying the wealth and status that having been at a prestigious Sathya Sai Baba education institute has conferred (often not by merit alone but by influence). Still failing to acknowledge that sexual abuse has devastating and long-lasting effects. Still selfishly thinking of their own skin, and not of their many peers who were stricken. Still in psychological denial of their own warped sexuality. Or of their witnessing the effects of this in their peers.

….. Still refusing to act from the knowledge that IF they would cooperate in tearing down the iron curtains of cover up in regard to sexual abuse they would be doing a huge service to society …….

As I mentioned, I used to rejoice in reading of the exploits of India’s great freedom fighters. All who seek for gutsy role models might consider contemplating of just a few of the many:  Rani Lakshmi Bai, Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kripalani, Mahatma Gandhi, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose ……

Anyway, many of my ‘old boys’ used to listen to my recommendations for good reading. I now suggest they read for fifteen minutes or preferably longer about Nancy Wake. It strikes me that they may be more ready, after all their years of frigid inaction, and witnessing the vast pomp and disgusting glitter and falsity of Puttaparthi, to decide that it is time to do something strong and decent which will challenge India and the world to face and address the great pestilence of sexual abuse.

If anyone knows the hypocrisy and spiritual betrayal it involves, they would have to be in a prime position to acknowledge, share and begin to heal their experiences. For any such contingency, outstanding, properly chartered sexual abuse authorities in various countries stand ready to be of assistance, and former leader of the Norwegian Sathya Sai Organization, Robert Priddy ( I ( can confidentially inform of these resources.


Nancy Wake, ‘The White Mouse’. By Barry Pittard

It is always those like Nancy Wake

Who take the lead to save the day

From the bullies and the thieves who march to take

Peace from the world all away

It is always those, the bold, the awake

Dare halt the robotic dumb cannonade

True grit a pearl makes in the Nancy Wakes

You might think they come Heaven-made

Proud Nancy saw Nazi scapegoats paraded

Like in some cattle-show whipped and degraded

As the giant, loud torture wheel rotated

She swore to fight such hatred

When sore whipping-wheels with people bound

Stops for a while, you might think Peace is found

But there’s always some runts, some dummkopf hounds

To snarl and shove people around

The Gestapo priced Nancy at five million francs

Against her few paltry pounds to silence their tanks

But a White Mouse only costs a free people’s thanks

Against the toxic prattlings of cranks

Some lands gave Nancy their highest awards

But the Canberra runts had hearts made of board

And proud Nancy, she of the flaming sword

Explained where to “shove their award”

She told them: “Be thankful it’s not a pineapple”!

And: “To stick their medals where the monkey stuck its nuts”!

Proud Nancy was proud of her love of life

And death was not death when she conquered dark fright

Though a vintage heart sinks or else a bullet or a knife

The White Mouse still lives in starlight

To proud Nancy, Adieu! But not Adieu to her pride

Of white mice that are still behind the lines

Always, there’ll be bullies and thieves to be defied

And wheels to be halted, and swines

. The White Mouse has gone behind the lines

Scurrying into starlight

With high heart singing:

“Freedom is the only thing worth living for”

Barry Pittard, Australia

(Copyright protected, Australasian Performing Rights Association, APRA)

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One Response to “Nancy Wake, WW2 Australian Heroine – A Timeless Role Model”

  1. Dearest Barry and readers!
    What a lovely poem you have written Barry about the brave woman that had such a life of 98 years. I’m sure she will be welcomed in a wiser and better place due to her services to victims of disasters as the Nazis etc. Furthermore, I really like your inspirational words to all the former students at the Sathya Sai schools in Puttaparti, Whitefield and elsewhere to stand up for truth and dharma and finally bring out the truth from their inner circle about this devious so called spiritual org. that only served by “lipservices” and not by the 5 human values they where speaking so much about. I feel sorry to have to say this.
    To all of you who are survivors of the abuses, I, for one, am with you and so are people through the whole western world finally. Given that brave people in the Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other places have stood up to their oppressors, why not you?
    Take up the challenge and widen your perspectives. Many of us are all yours and waiting!!
    Conny Larsson, former co head of the Sathya Sai Organization, Sweden and
    devotee and former devotee of Sathya Sai Baba who sexually molested me during 4 years while I visited Puttaparti.

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