RAF nurse, who had a ride in Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery’s car, celebrates 100th birthday

A former RAF nurse who was one of the founder members of the Wakefield Caledonian Society, celebrates her 100th birthday today (Christmas Eve).

Mary Firth was born in Oxfordshire, the eldest of three girls and was a nurse during the Blitz in London.

She was injured and after she’d recovered, worked at a maternity home in Wales before joining the RAF as a nurse where she met her husband Jim, a pilot, at Brize Norton airfield.

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Mary said: “There were 1500 men and only 300 girls at Brize Norton so we had plenty of suitors. I was already engaged but Jim pulled rank and whisked me off my feet.”

The happy couple were married in 1944 and, due to wartime austerity, Mary’s bridal outfit was put together by friends and relations who lent her a dress, sandals and veil: the vicar took a few photos.

Following the marriage, Jim was posted to a number of different airfields and Mary joined him, staying in quarters as diverse as a five-star hotel to a thatched cottage.

Their daughter Alison was born five years after their marriage.

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One day Mary was at an air display when she found herself sitting next to Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery. ‘Monty’ bought her a cup of tea in the NAAFI then took her for a drive in his Rolls-Royce that he had used in the desert, which she found fascinating.

After the war Jim, who died in 1979, joined the civil service and worked in the customs and excise department. An opening came up in West Yorkshire and the couple came to live in Wakefield.

Mary has Scottish roots and loves Highland dancing so was instrumental in setting up the local Caledonian Society and became one of the group’s teachers.

Her other love is rugby union, and Mary was a lady member at College Grove for 50 years. She is still active and healthy and cares for herself in her own home.

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Unfortunately, as with everything else this year, celebrations have been put on hold and Alison, who lives in the South of England, possibly won’t be able to visit her mum until restrictions are lifted.

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