New Zealand-born Nancy Wake - a hero of the World War II resistance movement - has died aged 98.

Ms Wake died on Sunday in hospital in London where she had lived since 2001. She was three weeks short of her 99th birthday.

The fearless WWII Resistance fighter and leader had lived in a London nursing home for retired veterans since suffering a heart attack in 2003 and her health recently deteriorated after being admitted to hospital two weeks ago with a chest infection.

After a typical fighting recovery late last week, her condition worsened over the weekend and she passed away peacefully on Sunday evening at the Kingston Hospital.

Advertisement

In accordance with her wishes, Ms Wake is expected to be cremated privately and her ashes scattered next spring at Montlucon in central France, where she fought so heroically, including an attack on the local Gestapo headquarters in 1944.

Ms Wake is regarded as a heroine in France which decorated her with its highest military honour, the Legion d'Honneur, as well as three Croix de Guerre and a French Resistance Medal.

She was also awarded Britain's George Medal and the US Medal of Freedom.

She was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2004, and was Australia's most decorated World War II servicewoman.

Born in New Zealand on August 30, 1912, Ms Wake grew up in Sydney when her family moved to Australia when she was one years old.

In her 20s she travelled to Europe where she witnessed Hitler's Nazis persecute the Jews and blacks in the 1930s in Vienna and Paris.

When France was occupied by the Nazis in 1940 she and her French husband Henri Fiocca became active in the resistance movement.

Ms Wake saved thousands of Allied lives by setting up escape routes and sabotaging German installations. Trained as a spy by the British, she led 7000 resistance fighters in D-Day preparations and was on top of the Gestapo's most wanted list.

Advertisement

Called the White Mouse by the Germans because of her ability to evade capture, Ms Wake learned at the end of the war that Fiocca was tortured and killed in 1943.

She married RAF fighter pilot John Forward in 1957 and returned to Australia with him but returned to England to live in 2001, four years after his death.

In her first two years back in London she lived at the Stafford hotel in Piccadilly until the heart attack slowed her down.

Ms Wake lived a quiet and contented life at the Royal Star and Garter home in West London in her latter years, but even into her late 90s still enjoyed a drink and a party with old war mates and was a regular at the annual Anzac Day reception at Australia House.

She had no children.

-AAP