Veteran Marguerite remembers the Second World War

Sitting at a desk in England during the Second World War, Marguerite Dimmer did her part to help keep England safe from Nazi Germany, whether helping guide searchlights to spot enemy planes or coding and decoding secret messages.

Marguerite, a Silvera for Seniors tenant, looks back on her time in the British Army with fondness and pride.

“I was a nanny,” London-born Marguerite recalls. She turned 18 just after war broke out in September 1939 and volunteered right away. “I was one of the younger ones to join up.”

After attending boot camp similar to that of male soldiers (“They marched us all over – they wanted to make us really tough,” she says), Marguerite was assigned switchboard duties with a searchlight unit on the English coast.

Her task: relaying the directions of Nazi and Allied planes and becoming an expert in gauging degrees of cloud cover. “They didn’t have the equipment they do now,” she says. “There was always this big map and we had to know which way the planes were going. It was exciting, but also scary – were they going to drop bombs where you were?”

Marguerite — who met her husband, Cecil, in the service — also worked with the Royal Artillery and later moved into what she calls “the secret part,” where her job was to code and decode secret messages with important information. “It all came through a secret office on the telephone and I really needed to know shorthand!” she says.

Marguerite_Capture_PortraitMarguerite says she had her share of close calls during the war. “My husband and I were out for a walk and he was taking me along the edge of the beach,” she recalls. “We were saying goodnight and suddenly he pushed me down and jumped in after me — not very far away a bomb exploded. He must have heard the plane coming.”

Marguerite, who volunteered to go overseas, but was denied because she was married, says the contributions of those who provided support to fighting forces is not always recognized as much as it should be. “I’m proud of being a veteran,” she says.

Silvera is constructing a new affordable and supported apartment building for 125 seniors like Marguerite through the RESOLVE Campaign. Read more about their project here.