100-year-old ex-Wren celebrates her birthday with sailors

Brenda joined the navy in the 1940s and served during the Second World War

Brenda joined the navy in the 1940s and served during the Second World War

Andrew Link

‘I feel like I have been through hell on the streets...’

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Brenda Vickery served in the WRNS during the Second World War, so it was only right that as a 100th birthday treat she got a special greeting from two of her modern-day equivalents – female sailors from HMS Collingwood.

Master-at-Arms Marie Bradley and Seaman Specialist Courtney Grundy spent time with Brenda and the three compared notes on the navy of today and yesteryear.

The great-grandmother, who lived in Hove before moving to Fareham, joined the navy in 1941.

While based at Southampton she drove top brass around in staff cars, visiting Southwick House and Fort Southwick while Churchill and Eisenhower were planning the D-Day landings.

She once drove her boss to an engagement on board HMS Victory and even sat on Nelson’s bunk in his cabin while the meeting was on.

At the age of 22 Brenda dived into the sea to save Southampton’s air raid precautions officer, Captain F J Phillips, from drowning.

Brenda left the services as a Leading Wren in 1946 and after the war married her late husband, army captain Christopher Vickery.

He was a distinguished career soldier who served with special forces, airborne troops, the 1st Tank Regiment and the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

Brenda travelled to and lived with her husband in far-flung places such as Tripoli, Singapore and Malta.

The couple had two children together – Sue and Nigel. Brenda is also a grandmother of three and a great-grandmother of three.

She still reads newspapers every day and is a skilful bridge player with many triumphs to her name.

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