Mavis Wannamaker receives a toast at the Riverside Manor on her 100th birthday last Friday. (X. Y. Zeng photo)

Hope woman who turned 100 remembers shooting German planes down

The English lance corporal now lives in Hope, B.C.

Mavis Wannamaker, née Bird, turned 100 last Friday, possibly becoming the only person in Hope who has a three-digit age.

Census data from Statistics Canada showed that 10 people in Hope were 95 to 99 years old last year, while nobody was 100 years old and over.

Wannamaker celebrated her 100th birthday at the Riverside Manor, surrounded by family, staff and friends. The English woman, born in Wrentham at the tailend of the First World War, told The Standard that her most poignant moment in her life’s story was when she participated in the Second World War.

Then a lance corporal, she served as a spotter for anti-aircraft gunners, looking at instruments that control the guns and told the gunners which way to point.

“I helped to shoot the German planes down,” said Wannamaker. “I was in the British Army for seven years. I was all over England, and in Belgium, France and Germany.”

Wannamaker entered the army when she was 23 and left when she was 30. In 1955, she moved to Canada, living in Quebec City, Kelowna, Banff, Calgary and in various places in Southern Ontario.

Asked why she decided to move to Canada, Wannamaker said, “I don’t know, I just decided I wanted to.”

Wannamaker met her husband in Trenton, Ont. Her husband was in the Canadian Army.

“I met my husband there, married him and buried him,” said Wannamaker, adding that her husband died in 1994.

She moved to British Columbia after her stepdaughter and her stepdaughter’s husband moved here.

Wannamaker said she did not have a profession in her civilian life.

“I just worked wherever I found a [job],” said Wannamaker. “Quite a while I worked as a housemother in a children’s home. There were 12 girls that I looked after.”



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