he is, of course, a pretty remarkable woman, that Joan Stradling.
And not just because she’s 96-going-on-26, but for the gift the Greystones Nursing Home resident has just gifted the nation.
With her father, George, having fought in World War War and she in World War Two, Jojo (as the lady likes to be called) has gathered together the medals and other war memorabilia from both campaigns and handed them over to the Irish United Nations Veterans Association.
Just how those awards and accolades came into her life, well, we’ll let the lady herself explain…
I was born in London, 1924, the proud daughter of the late George Butterfield.
George was a fitter and a gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery during World War 1, serving from 1914 until 1920. I myself served in World War 2, joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1942, which was also attached to the Artillary.
During my term there, the 547 BTY was being formed and I ended up training with them, becoming a predictor number. I recall there being myself and four other girls, and the five of us would would pass on information to the gunners. Information like descriptions of enemies planes, the height, distance, etc. I would then shout the word ‘FUSE!’ followed by a number followed by the word ‘FIRE!’. This information would of been shouted by myself to the sergeant in charge. I was demobbed from the army in January 1947.
On Christmas 1914, my father and the rest of the soliders recieved a bronze tin gift box from Princess Mary, and inside were things like cigarettes, matches, sweets and a Christmas card. However, my father did stain his tin silver, as it would be easier to keep clean and easier to shine up. I have treasured this box up until now and inside I kept his dicharge letters from the army along with his small silk flag.
When I was demobbed from WW2, I received two beautiful medals which I will be forever proud of. I also became a member of the Veterans Society in later years and I will always cherish my badge.
It was when I moved to Greystones Nursing Home that I really thought about where I would want my father’s and my own war memorabilia to go. A good friend of mine sourced a contact number for a man named Michael Thompson from the Irish United Nations Veterans Association, who have a museum in Dublin where they showcase war memorabilia from all over the world.
Amy, who is one of the activity co-ordinators here in the nursing home, really helped me reach out and contact the IUNVA. On May 20th, Michael Thompson alongside Ronnie Daly, Derek Judge and Anto Byrne came out and see me in the nursing home, and it was such a beautiful morning. The four gentlemen came fully dressed in their uniforms. Anto Byrne played the pipes for me and sang me a beautiful ballad, and they let me tell my story, asking me questions. They explained where my own medals and where my father’s gift box would go in the museum and how they would be presented. They even invited me up to the museum in the near future when my memorabilia would be on show.
My mind is now at ease, knowing that my father’s WW1 memorabilia and my own medals from WW2 will have a forever home. I know my father would be proud.
I will be forever grateful to IUNVA for having an interest in me and finding a special place for my memorabilia.
You can find out more about the Irish United Nations Veterans Association right about here.
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