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Former WAAF member, who served in Algeria, celebrated turning 102


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A Maidstone veteran has celebrated her 102nd birthday with family members of four generations alongside her.

With a lifespan of more than a century, Emily ‘Ann’ Milton has been married twice, served in Algeria during Second World War and has only ever flown once.

Staff at the Betsy Clara Nursing Home surprised Lorraine with a cake. Picture: Lorraine Milton
Staff at the Betsy Clara Nursing Home surprised Lorraine with a cake. Picture: Lorraine Milton

Now unfortunately suffering from dementia, Emily lives at Betsy Clara Nursing Home in Tovil whose staff laid out a small surprise for her incredible landmark, attended by 14 members of her family.

Daughter-in-law Lorraine Milton said: “Big thank you to the staff at the nursing home for providing the beautiful cake along with decorations.

“It was a really pleasant afternoon and mum was very happy; despite her dementia she really was quite bright and lively. It was so good to see her looking so well.”

Born Emily Lamb on May 2, 1920, she lived in Elephant and Castle, London with her parents Jane, a housewife and George, a labourer.

She had four siblings, two brothers and two sisters, with the latter, Kathleen and Peggy from Somerset and Lenham respectively, still around today.

Emily Milton. Picture: Lorraine Milton (56361518)
Emily Milton. Picture: Lorraine Milton (56361518)

In early 1921, the family moved to Lunsford Lane, East Malling, where she spent her youth.

She left school at 14 and began working as a housemaid in Barham Court in Teston and, on the eve of the Second World War, New Barns House in West Malling.

Emily then enlisted in the WAAF in 1941 where she met her first husband, Richard Pooley.

They married in April 1942 but Richard was shipped to Burma (now Myanmar) just weeks later where he served with the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, fighting the Japanese forces.

Emily served in Algeria during the Second World War. Picture: Lorraine Milton
Emily served in Algeria during the Second World War. Picture: Lorraine Milton

During her time in the WAAF Emily had the role of dispatch rider, delivering telegrams and messages and but she also served in Algeria supporting the RAF servicemen.

Her journey back was the only time she flew, going from Algeria to Italy and then taking the train through Europe.

A few weeks after returning to the UK, Emily was informed of the death of her husband, Richard, who was killed in action on April 21, 1945 in Burma - just four months before the war with Japan ended.

She spent the remainder of the war at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire where she acquired the lifelong nickname ‘Ann’ after one of the servicemen said Emily was too old fashioned.

It was at RAF Halton that Emily met Alfred ‘Alf’ Milton at the end of 1945. Alf was working for the Air and Sea Rescue and was attending a cookery training course at the camp.

Emily married Alfred Milton after the war. Picture: Lorraine Milton
Emily married Alfred Milton after the war. Picture: Lorraine Milton

Alf and Emily struck up a relationship shortly after, marrying in 1946 at St Michael’s Church in Maidstone.

They had two children, daughter Sue in 1948 and Richard in 1952.

Emily settled in Yalding for the next 75 years and during this time she worked various roles, including picking strawberries and hops for farms in the area.

Emily can now boast two children, five grandchildren, six great grandchildren and most recently three great great grandchildren and each of them have enjoyed having her in their lives and them being part of hers.

Emily reading one of her many birthday cards. Picture: Lorraine Milton
Emily reading one of her many birthday cards. Picture: Lorraine Milton

Great grandchild Josh said: “Her grandchildren and us great grandchildren have particularly fond memories of visiting Emily for macaroni cheese, fried frozen sausages, potato croquettes and fruity HP sauce during the school holidays.

“Her secret to creating the perfect macaroni cheese is to use a full pound of cheese.”

Lorraine said: “Mum adores her family and it’s quite a large family. It is true to say they have been her main enjoyment in life.

“She has spent a good part of her life caring for and looking after other members of the family and always being a home-loving person and devoted to her family.”

Granddaughter Tracy said: “I think her best advice for living to 102 is to be happy, look after yourself and those around you; also drink plenty of cups of tea (with maybe the odd whiskey at Christmas).”

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