Women victims of war never forgotten

Flowers lain in Oak Bay each year for those who didn’t survive Blitz

Pamela Odgers will place flowers at the Oak Bay Memorial Cenotaph today (Nov. 11) at the Remembrance Day ceremony in memory of the women of Britain who lost their lives in the wars

am Odgers lost her home, most of her possessions and a few of her friends during the Second World War. But still, she says, she was one of the lucky ones.

“During the war, during the Blitz, 30,000 people were killed, 14,000 of them were women and there’s no memorial for them anywhere,” said the quick-talking septuagenarian. She lays a bouquet of flowers during the Oak Bay Remembrance Day ceremony each year to commemorate those women of Britain who lost their lives.

“I like to put flowers down in their memory. I was born in London and I know people who were killed,” she said.

Odgers was just 12 years old when bombs began to fall on the streets of London. Streets where she and her twin sister had played, walked to school and along the park where they flew kites.

“It was the first time in England’s history since William the Conqueror where women were killed in war … my generation likes to commemorate them, to remind people of their loss,” she said.

Odgers, her sisters and mother were quickly evacuated from the war-torn city, leaving the blackouts and sound of V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets behind.

“The well-to-do and middle class left London – we went to live in Devon. The poorer people and the working class, they had to stay,” she recalled.

Odgers’ father owned a factory that made canvass and was busy producing “war work” during those years. “They had a fire watch at night and one of the workers, after his shift, would stand on the roof of the factory looking for incendiary devices – small bombs about 18-inches long.

“He would pick them up with his bare hands and put them in a bucket of sand or a barrel of water, then he would walk 10 miles to his home over rubble, live electrical power lines, people being dug out of the rubble, desperate people trying to find their relatives under collapsed buildings …” her voice trailed off momentarily as she became lost in her memories.

Her mother was American and the family moved to the U.S. during the war years, but Odgers returned to her homeland in 1944. She met her future husband Graham at Cambridge and together they came to Oak Bay in 1949. The couple raised their three children here.

Odgers can’t remember how long she has been attending the Oak Bay ceremony and placing flowers for those women who died, but she will be among the hundreds who will gather today (Nov. 11) at 11 a.m. in Uplands Park to honour the memory of those who served Canada in the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan and in peacekeeping forces.

The service is organized by the Oak Bay Police Department and includes participation from the Oak Bay secondary Brass Choir, Victoria Male Choir, various Oak Bay clergy, the fifth and 12th Garry Oak Scouts, Girl Guides and Oak Bay Fire Department.

As Odgers and others lay flowers and wreaths at the base of the cenotaph today, they will be thinking of those who died in the Blitz and the bombings, and in the trenches – those who were not as lucky.

editor@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Capital Regional District is considering adding another dollar a year to the parkland acquisition fund fee for homeowners. (Black Press Media file photo)
One dollar or two? Greater Victoria parks acquisition fee hike spurs debate

$2 a year too steep, CRD committee recommends $1 a year increase per household

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

Patrol officers from VicPD’s Esquimalt division responded to a call about hateful graffiti in Macaulay Park Wednesday evening. (Black Press Media file photo)
Anti-Semitic, hate-based graffiti found in Esquimalt park

Police seek suspects after fresh hate-based graffiti found Wednesday evening

Alyssa Gerwing, executive director of the Sidney Museum and Archives, gets into the Halloween spirit with a lit-up jack-o-lantern. With Treat Street cancelled, the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society has organized a series of other events and activities under the heading of Halloween Spooktacular. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)
Sidney serves up ghoulish spills and thrills during Halloween

A virtual Halloween treasure hunt and scary drive-in movies among tricks and treats

Artists, activists and supporters stand at the ‘More Justice, More Peace’ mural in Victoria’s Bastion Square after the letter ‘S’ was painted over in black. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
ACAB removed from Victoria’s More Justice, More Peace mural

New message points to VicPD, City of Victoria for silencing BIPOC voices

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Pilot Kevin Maher participated in a flyover of a ceremony at the Cobble Hill cenotaph on Oct. 22 in a 1940 North American (Noorduyn) Harvard aircraft. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cobble Hill remembers lost military members with ceremony, flyover

Annual event commemorates those who died in non-combat roles

Most Read