Wartime memories are still clear in mind for Bernice as she marks 100th birthday

Bernice Westley

Bernice Westley - Credit: Archant

Memories of wartime London have come flooding back for Bernice Westley who lived through bombing raids on the capital - including attacks by Hitler’s flying bomb and rocket vengeance weapons.

An attack by a V2 rocket left Bernice temporarily deaf because it came down so close to where she was working in the West End.

Bernice, from St Ives, who has just celebrated her 100th birthday, said: “I lived in London during the war, right through the bombing and the doodlebugs and rocket bombs.

“You just accepted it because there was no choice. If you met a friend you didn’t discuss the war - we had been warned about spies - and you would just something like ‘busy last night, wasn’t it’ even though there had been bombs all around you.

“Once when the rocket bombs came I was typing and one of the rockets dropped nearby and I went deaf.”

Bernice, a great-grandmother, said the rockets arrived without any warning, unlike the doodlebug flying bombs, but people simply got on with their lives.

Bernice was born in Rugby but moved to London with her family.

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She married shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War but her husband was killed in the conflict. Bernice later remarried and moved to Huntingdon and then to St Ives.

After the death of her second husband, Bernice married Ivan Westley, 92, having met him at a friendship club, and they have now been married for 25 years.

She has just marked her 100th birthday, with a special card from the Queen and a family get together.

“I really don’t feel my age,” Bernice said.

Husband Ivan also has many wartime memories - having joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17, serving as an aircraft engine fitter with the Fleet Air Arm.

Ivan said he had been training as a gardener but immediately signed up for four years with the Royal Navy after the friend who was mentoring him was killed.

He worked on the Rolls Royce engines of Seafires, Fireflies and Barracudas. After the war he went to work at Marshalls in Cambridge where he was heavily involved in the union movement.