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, later being transferred to the concentration camp at Buchenwald before her eventual release. She was being lined up to be shot by firing squad at Buchenwald
when the US Army arrived to liberate the prisoners. She also survived meningitis.
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 union was happy but childless.
She was presented with the Medal of Freedom by President Eisenhower.
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 somewhere between the 10th and 11th of March 2010 and several
items 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, was published in French as Miracles Existent! (English version translated by Evelyn Scott Brown). It has been made into a film by William