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Meet Pauline, aged 91, who happily lives at our Bay Tree Court care home in Prestbury

Meet Pauline, aged 91, who happily lives at our Bay Tree Court care home in Prestbury.

Pauline’s daughters Sarah and Jane shared their mother’s remarkable story with us. Pauline’s story is one of resilience and survivorship. Like so many, the Second World War left its scars, and it’s important that their stories are not forgotten.

 

Age 5

 

Pauline was born on the 21ST January 1933 in Gotherington, Cheltenham. Her parents were Mary and Henry Chitty and her father was a local baker.

 

Pictured is Pauline aged five in 1938 with brothers Robin and John. It is the only photo of Pauline before she lost her arm. The family lived in a house in Worcester Street, Cheltenham (just off the Tewksbury Road). Life was hard in those days, and they had little money, and it was the Great Depression.

 

Age 8

 

Pauline lost her left arm in a tragic bomb disaster on Easter weekend of 1941 in Worcester Street, Cheltenham. A group of local children found an unexploded trench mortar bomb. Not realising the danger, it got brought back to their street, and it exploded. From the blast, 6 children were killed – including Pauline’s brother Johnny Chitty age 7, and Pauline was injured.

 

After the explosion, Pauline was taken to Cheltenham General Hospital in a dustcart which her mum flagged down, the only vehicle available. Not realising at this point her son Johnny had sadly been killed.

A very skilled surgeon managed to save the top half of Pauline’s left arm, something she was always grateful for because her ‘stump’ was extremely useful. She also suffered shrapnel injuries in her back.

 

Pauline was in hospital for many months and was then sent away to convalesce in Weston Super Mare. She returned to school and was a very independent child who just ‘got on with it’ despite her injuries.

 

Life was extremely hard for all the family after the bomb. Pauline’s parents had more children David, Roger and Susan.

 

Age 24

 

Pictured is Pauline’s marriage to Dennis Halliday in 1957, and their wedding reception was in Cheltenham Town Hall. They met as neighbours aged 8 in Whaddon Avenue where Pauline’s family moved after the bomb.

 

Pauline was fitted with a prosthetic arm and it wasn’t just for cosmetic purposes, because it also helped her balance when she rode a bicycle (which she did for years)!

 

Pauline worked in Wards department store in Cheltenham where she had lots of friends and enjoyed her job.

 

Pauline and Dennis have two daughters, Jane and then Sarah.

 

Age 91 – Pauline lives at Bay Tree Court care home in Prestbury Cheltenham, not far from her roots. Pauline has settled in and calls it her home. She enjoys the activities, the range of food and especially loves the tea and cakes.

 

Pauline’s daughters Jane and Sarah commented, “It’s remarkable that she managed to change nappies and feed her babies with only one hand! Like all things, she just found ways around each problem and coped.”

 

Pauline continued to work right up until retirement age and then went on to give her time and skills by volunteering at local charities, including Cruse Bereavement Care.

“Despite such a traumatic beginning to her life, she managed to cope with life’s challenges and proves that living a full life after losing a limb is possible”.

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