Peggy remembers how she helped win the war – as Spitfire Lodge marks D-Day 80th Anniversary

In the run up to the 80th Anniversary of D-Day, Churchill Retirement Living developments across the country have been hosting special events to commemorate this decisive moment in the Second World War. 

Many apartment Owners are old enough to remember the war years from their childhood, but 98-year-old Peggy Abbotts from Spitfire Lodge in Portswood is one of the few to have been a serving member of the armed forces at the time!

Peggy signed up as a fresh-faced teenager, following in the footsteps of her father who had served during the First World War. She joined the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC) and was stationed in Bedford, training as a PT instructor, when news of the D-Day invasion arrived.

“When Hitler heard I had signed up that was it,” she quips. “It was the beginning of the end for him and the war was finished soon afterwards! I remember my uncle was one of those brave men who fought on the beaches during the D-Day landings, and he was one of the lucky ones who survived. We were so glad to see him come home.”

Peggy’s military career was a short one, but she is proud to have made a contribution alongside her uncle and so many others of her generation. Alongside some darker memories, such as seeing Coventry burn underneath the German bombs from her childhood home in Birmingham, she also has much happier memories, especially of the big street party to celebrate the end of the war when it finally came. 

In a surprising twist of fate, Peggy later went to live in Germany for a number of years in the 1960s. She met husband Ron, a former army Corporal, at a dance in Weston Super-Mare shortly after the war, and his job in publishing took him and their two young children to Germany, where they lived for three years alongside people they had fought against such a short time before.

Peggy’s daughter Jill was young at the time, but she recalls: “My brother and I went to school in Germany and when we returned to the UK, my brother remained in Germany and took up an engineering apprenticeship. A few years later he got married, and Germany has been his home ever since.”

Peggy’s family legacy is therefore reassuring evidence of how far we have come since the events of D-Day which, despite taking place eight decades ago, still live long in the memory for so many who are still with us today.