Hilda May Taylor (Lindley), Wren Lindley No 98009, was born in Webster Street, Bolton, Lancashire, on 16 August 1925, to Harry & Edith Lindley. She excelled at school, though her education was cut short – as so often for girls – when she had to leave school aged only 15. She began office work, studying shorthand & typing at night classes, whilst living through the early wartime years; she often talked of the ‘Manchester blitz’.
She met Stanley Taylor, from Dundee, in 1941, at a local dance when he was stationed in Bolton for RAF wireless training. He had worked in the British Linen Bank for some 15 years, but was also a Divisional Officer in the Auxiliary Fire Service before applying to the RAF.
Hilda had to wait for her 18th birthday to join the WRNS, but did so in 1943. Her father, a survivor of the Somme, was ‘not best pleased’, his only words being ‘you’ve made your bed…’ She began her initial training at Headingly in Leeds – 2 weeks of rigorous disciplined activities, with WrenWriter training – followed by a stint at Blundellsands, near Liverpool, where the day began with cleaning the offices in which she would then work for the rest of the day.
Eventually she was posted to Portsmouth, assisting in supplies for the D-day landings, and based in the harbour on the HMS Marshal Soult.
She was persuaded, in 2005, to write of her experiences for the BBC war memories project; her vivid recollections are now ‘star-rated’ and recommended for study.
The special remarks on Hilda’s Employment certificate issued on her discharge, 16 August 1946, describe her as ‘intelligent and very capable’, words which remained true throughout her long and active life.
Hilda married Stanley on 7 June 1947. She worked in a legal office in Dundee for several years, prior to having 3 children and devoting her days to their and her husband’s care. Stanley’s career in the bank led to moves to Perth then Brechin, where sadly he was to die in 1975, leaving her widowed at only 50. Having returned to office work, initially with Scottish Woodlands, then Glaxo in Montrose, she remained in Brechin, but major surgery for cancer contributed to her decision, in 1989, to move to Somerset, closer to her children and grandchildren.
There she returned to her love of ballroom dancing, but also took up handicrafts, producing many hand-knitted garments, and exploring creative sewing – cross stitch, beadwork and Hardanger, to cite but a few. Her family treasures many examples of her exquisite work. She was also a skilled baker, with many neighbours thoroughly enjoying her cream cakes!
Hilda remained active until very recently, including tackling Pilates online during the pandemic, solving the daily Telegraph cryptic crossword puzzle, and enjoyed being able to stay in touch with family and friends through online platforms, until her health began to deteriorate in summer 2022.7 months older than HM the Queen, Hilda married at the same age – 21 – in the same year, 1947. Only this summer she had said to her friends ‘I’ll go when the Queen goes’, and indeed she did pass away peacefully, in her sleep, with two of her children holding her hands, just after 3pm on Thursday 8 September, having spent only 3 weeks in the care of Rossetti Care Home in Frome, where her last words were of her time in the WRNS.
Source: Isla Keys (daughter)
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