“We were all called up, you see, even the mothers. Everyone who could serve, served.” Sitting in her room at Veterans Memorial Lodge, Olive shared stories of her life with us.
Olive met her husband, Norman, when she and her mother moved to the north of England to escape the constant air raids in London. “My father had died, so my mother and I left London and went up north to live with my uncle. Norman lived next door, and that’s how we met. But my mother and I realized that we couldn’t just stay up north. We had to get on with life, we couldn’t just walk away from it – so we went back to London. I worked in a factory that had been making London buses, and was converted to making Halifax bombers, four-engine bombers that used the Rolls Royce Merlin engine.”
During the time she worked there, the factory took a direct hit from a bomb, and Olive was buried in rubble for six hours until a bulldozer dug her out. “I was worried about that bulldozer, but I got out, and as it was my left arm that was injured, I was able to carry on working with my right arm.”
Following her graduation from the mathematics department of the University of London in 1942, Olive was called up by MI6, the Secret Service, and worked at Bletchley Park as a code breaker. “Norman and I were married in 1946, but I wasn’t allowed to tell him – or anyone – what I’d done. I think he still doesn’t know,” she quipped.
Olive received the Bletchley Park medal for her service, and more recently was awarded the Queen’s Medal in recognition of her work. “All our calculations were done by hand,” she said. “It was really interesting work – and it was all women, because the men had been called up.”
Like all Canadian veterans, Olive and Norman gave up so much so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today, and now it’s our privilege to support them.
You can help veterans like Olive enjoy the comforts of home and simple pleasures by making a donation today.