Dewsbury woman who married wartime code-breaker celebrates 100th birthday

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A Dewsbury-born centenarian who married a wartime code-breaker has celebrated her milestone birthday.

Bessie Brooke, nee Perrin, was born in June 1916, shortly before the outbreak of the infamous Battle of the Somme. As a child, she lost a finger in an accident with a mangle, was knocked down by a lorry and had to be rescued from the River Calder after falling in.

But accident-prone Bessie survived to marry late husband Harry, who worked in secrecy for the government at Bexley Heath in Kent, in 1940.

Her own contribution to the war effort was shifts at Appleyards in Leeds, wiring lights onto the wings of aircraft.

By 1950, the couple had settled in Upper Batley and started a family. The mother-of-two made headlines in the 1960s when she joined a local woodwork evening class, the first woman to do so.

Bessie retired to Harrogate in 1967 and still plays an active part in community life in the village of Spofforth, where she belongs to a senior citizens’ travel club and goes on regular outings. Her interests include keeping up with current affairs and collecting teddy bears.