Chiswick 'Bletchley Girl 'Pat Davies Celebrates 100th Birthday
Local resident is 'astonished' to have reached such a great age
Pat Davies recalls her life
June 22, 2023
Music, memories, and plenty of toasts were in evidence as Chiswick resident and former 'Bletchley Girl' Pat Davies, celebrated her 100th birthday, at a party in Chiswick surrounded by family, friends and neighbours.
Pat was guest of honour at the celebration at the Chiswick Cricket Club, (Sunday, 18 June), where a marquee was erected in the grounds and Pat took to the stage to discuss her long and interesting life, from her early days growing up in Lancashire, to wartime service as a Navy Wren, and later working to intercept German messages for Bletchley Park.
She also became a writer in later life, was one of the oldest contributors to the Chiswick Book Festival, and has received numerous awards for her wartime service.
Pat was interviewed on stage by her agent Simon, while a slide show of her life was shown. She also displayed the birthday card she received from King Charles, and sang 'Lili Marlene' in German. Later a giant birthday cake, covered in photographs from her life, was produced, and the Chiswick Sea Cadets, of which she is a patron, piped her along to cut her birthday cake.
There were messages of congratulations read out from the extended Owtram family, from all over the world, from Martinique to New Zealand.
Pat told Chiswickw4.com that she was "astonished" to have reached the ripe old age of 100.
"My parents lived to a great age but nobody else in my family has had a 100th birthday," she said.
"I've had such an interesting life, I've travelled, I did a degree at St Andrews and was lucky enough to get grants to go to Oxford and later Harvard. I had great experiences during the war too."
Pat worked in the Daily Mail in the 1950s and also for Granada TV and later the BBC's 'The Sky At Night'.
Pat's husband Ray passed away some years ago.
You can read more about her life in our previous interviews.
Asked to what she attributed her longevity, she said; "I think I got a good start in life, growing up in the countryside, plenty of fresh air, having a pony and lots of exercise. I only went to school at 14, before that I had tutors at home. I suppose that helped a lot, being brought up in the countryside in the fresh air."
Pat has been honoured a number of times for her wartime services. She was granted the Freedom of Hounslow at a ceremony in Chiswick Town Hall in 2019, and six months prior to that, was awarded the French Legion d'Honneur for her work as a Royal Navy Wren, when she was responsible for interpreting intercepted German Naval messages which were then passed onto the code-breaking operation. She had learned to speak German from the cook at her grandfather's house.
Pat was one of thousands of women whose story featured in The Bletchley Girls, which documents the lives of fifteen women who worked at Bletchley Park - it is thought that up to 7,000 women known as Bletchleyettes, worked at the secret codebreaking HQ during the war.
Going over old memories- file picture
Pat is a long time resident and a popular member of the community in Grove Park, and lives independently with the help of her carers. She says her neighbours have been very helpful in checking on her and getting anything she needs.
Pat with some of the Chiswick Sea Cadets of which she is a patron - 2019
Pat's sister Jean, who lived in Lancashire, passed away recently, and there were many tributes to her at the birthday celebration. They had collaborated on 1,000 Days On the River Kwai, the story of their father, Colonel Cary Owtram OBE, who kept a secret diary during his years as camp Commandant at Chungkai. The infamous camp was one of the largest POW camps during the Japanese occupation and the construction of the infamous Burma Railway during which several thousands British and Allied prisoners died.
A slide show outlining Pat's life achievements and her books
Pat's cousin Sarah also recalled how she, Jean and Pat had gone on a trip along the Ganges together nine years ago and had several adventures on the trip.
She said Pat was an inspiration and the family was very proud of all she had achieved and this (birthday) was "one more outstanding achievement."