IVY Haley said she never wanted any recognition for her wartime service with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) – yet it did not stop her carrying around a veteran’s medal everywhere she went.
The 101-year-old was given the badge during a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum with her son and daughter-in-law several years ago, and from that day it travelled with her in her handbag.
The precious item has now gone to her son Peter Adams, after Mrs Haley died on Tuesday.
“She was proud, it was an achievement. She had such an interesting life. She lived through two world wars,” said her daughter-in-law Adele.
Born in 1912, one month before the sinking of the Titanic, Mrs Haley lived in Burton for most of her life. She met her husband Sid as he lived over the road when the family lived in Stafford Street, and the pair moved to a farm cottage in Lodge Hill until they were separated during the second world war.
Mrs Haley was based in Lincolnshire after joining the WAAF, when she learned to drive heavy goods vehicles to deliver parts, bombs and crew to planes.
On one occasion, she had to drive a man to a burning aircraft against her wishes.
“He got out of the lorry and the plane blew up. It killed him outright and the lorry was blown up into the air and into a field,” Mr Adams said.
She had a brush with the law when a policeman tried to stop her going to a plane as the Queen was on her way to the site.
“She said ‘stuff the queen, Hitler’s coming as well, so I’m going to that plane’,” Mr Harris said.
The pair returned to Burton after the war, but Mr Adams died of cancer in the 1960s. His wife started working at the Beacon Hotel, and moved to Swansea with the owners when they relocated. She met her second husband Sam, and the pair were married for 13 years.
The great-grandmother returned to Burton when she was 95, and continued living alone until earlier this year, when she moved to Chestnut Grange.
Mr Adams said: “She was very forthright, but she loved her family and the country life.”
Her funeral will be this week.