A Horsham woman, who served in the Second World War as a car mechanic, has celebrated her 100th birthday this week.
Florence Irene Dunn, known to her friends and family as Rene, was born at home in Cricketfield Road, Horsham on July 7, 1914.
As a child she went to Miss Walker’s Private School and when she was seven when she moved up to St Mary’s Church Private School.
At school Rene loved sport and when she left she joined the Bank Tennis Club in Horsham. At 21, she moved to Horsham Tennis Club where five years later she met her husband-to-be Frank Dunn.
She worked as a hairdresser for 12 years before they both joined the army in 1941.
Serving in the Royal Army Service Corps, Rene worked in the transport department as a car mechanic. She would check all vehicles to ensure they were in good working order before they went out.
As a sergeant, Rene spent most of her time in Norwich but sometimes would drive ambulances to Northampton.
Her granddaughter Natalie Dunn said Rene has fond memories and always refers to it being the best time of her life.
Natalie said: “One night in Norwich they all got drunk and lit a bonfire, and they also ran past a policeman and knocked off his hat. Gran said she did get reprimanded for that, she couldn’t believe they did it.”
She almost had the opportunity to meet the Queen, when she was visiting as a princess. Natalie added: “When Her Majesty the Queen came to visit her regiment in Norwich, Gran missed the Queen by one day, which she was most upset about as she would have loved the opportunity to meet with her.”
Near the end of the war in 1945 Frank and Rene got married at the Horsham Parish Church.
They lived in Horsham for most of their married life and had two sons Geoffrey and David. She now has 10 grandchildren and is still very active.
Natalie said: “Currently Gran is a very independent women living in her own house, going up and down stairs everyday, cooking her own food and doing crosswords everyday. She is a inspirational woman. She’s all with it. I think she has a better memory than me.”
On Monday Rene had a small celebration with close family and on Sunday there will be a party with the extended family .