Portsmouth pensioner celebrates 100th birthday - and says her secret is 'chocolate and make-up'

A WOMAN who helped to entertain troops in Portsmouth preparing for the D-Day assault 75 years ago has celebrated her 100th birthday – and says chocolate is her secret weapon.

Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 9:54 am
Maisie Bartlett with her son Robin Bartlett Picture: Keith Woodland (211219-8)

Maisie Bartlett, who lives in Thorncroft Road, Fratton, celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, December 21.

The pensioner has been a keen musician all her life – and literally played a role in the D-Day assault.

Armed with nothing but her accordion, she played music to the men as they made their final preparations for the invasion of Normandy.

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Some of the cards that Maisie has received. Picture: Keith Woodland (211219-11)

She said: ‘It was my job to entertain the troops while they were on the beaches here in Portsmouth.

’I had my accordion and was playing some of the modern songs like Glenn Miller’s stuff for them – I think they were sick of It’s A Long Way To Tipperary by that point in the war!

’I loved doing it, it was nice to put a smile on their faces as they sang along.

’I had always preferred the modern music anyway.’

After the war, Maisie started playing the piano instead, settling down with her husband and having their first child, Robin.

’I couldn’t bring myself to touch the accordion again, knowing what happened in Normandy,’ she said.

’I still have it in a box upstairs, it’s never come back out. I started playing the piano instead and was still performing when I was 90 years old.’

A recognisable face in the Portsmouth area, even the owners of corner shop Penhale News popped in to see her, with a card and a big bar of chocolate.

Maisie said: ‘They know me too well, chocolate is my favourite thing.

’That and cherry wine.

’I’ve got quite a lot of presents, and my card from the Queen.’

Despite hitting triple digits, you could be mistaken for thinking Maisie is a fair bit younger than she is, with a full head of brown hair, sharp mind and strong sense of humour.

’People sometimes ask what my secret is,’ she said.

’Chocolate and make-up go a long way.’