A woman who survived a Nazi assassination attempt, a horror plane crash, breast cancer and coronavirus over the course of her life has celebrated her 100th birthday.
Dementia-sufferer Joy Andrew celebrated the magnificent milestone with fellow residents and members of staff at the care home where she lives on Sunday (Nov 22).
Sadly her daughter Michele Andrew, 57, wasn’t able to attend due to the circumstances and Joy wasn’t able to celebrate properly due to feeling under the weather.
She did however receive a birthday card and personal message of congratulations from the Queen, as is tradition in the UK for those who reach triple digits like Joy.
Michele said: “I’m so proud of my mum for reaching her 100th birthday.
“She has lived the most colourful and amazing life and this milestone is another thing to add to her brilliant list of achievements.”
Joy was born in north London in 1920 and raised there before joining the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as a sergeant during the war, where she served in the Operations’ Room at Bomber Command.
Bomber Command controlled the RAF’s bomber forces from 1936 to 1968 and is most well remembered for the central role it played in the strategic bombing of Germany in World War II.
After the war Joy joined the British Army of The Rhine, an occupation force in Germany created after both the first and second world wars.
She was posted to Dusseldorf where she lodged with an elderly couple who she became very friendly with, but who had a daughter who was a Nazi.
According to Michele, while in Germany, Joy, who was from a German Jewish family, was allocated a driver to take her wherever she wanted to go.
Michele said: “This included a trip to Berlin, where she wandered alone in the remains of the Reichstag.
“She also went to the Nuremberg Trials… this was obviously important to her.”
She added: “One day the driver picked her up and, en route to the destination, deliberately crashed the car in an attempt to kill her.
“She still bears the scar on her face from the assassination attempt. The driver was arrested and turned out to be a Nazi.”
After the war Joy joined the British Overseas Airways Corporation as one of the first air hostesses, which saw her travel internationally, especially in Africa.
Michele said: “One day the pilot made a dreadful mistake and flew off course, running out of fuel.
“The plane, a comet, crashed in Libya and broke upon impact.
“The crew survived but one passenger died. They were all stranded in the desert and rescued by Bedouins – a nomadic Arab of the desert.”
Soon after that, in the 1950s, Joy married husband David Andrew, a Squadron Leader in the RAF, and in 1963 the couple adopted Michele.
In the 1970s Joy defeated breast cancer and she spent the subsequent decades as a housewife before David sadly succumbed to cancer himself in 2013.
Michele then moved her mum up from St Albans to North Yorkshire.
Despite suffering from dementia, Joy had lived at Minster Grange happily until she tested positive for Covid-19 on May 16.
She was placed on end of life care but care home staff watched on in disbelief over the subsequent weeks and months as Joy recalled the wartime spirit to “miraculously defeat” Covid-19.
Michele added: “My mother survived an assassination attempt in post war Germany by her chauffeur, later identified as a Nazi, she survived a crash landing in the desert as one of BOAC’s first air hostesses, and was rescued by Bedouins, and she survived breast cancer. She certainly wasn’t going to let coronavirus defeat her.”
Joy doesn’t have any grandchildren but is beloved by her two nieces, four great nephews and nieces and thirteen great, great nephews and nieces.
Unfortunately due to the lockdown none of them have been able to attend Minster Grange Care Home in York, North Yorks., for some months.
On her birthday yesterday Joy was feeling under the weather so wasn’t able to take part in a small birthday party the care home manager had organised.
Michele hopes to have a delayed party once visiting rules have been relaxed.
She said: “I haven’t been able to see my mum since March, before that I was going in three times a week.
“I’m worried that she feels like I have abandoned her.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to go in some time soon, not just to see her but also celebrate her birthday.”