'Not many people did what I did': B.C. woman recounts work on top-secret Second World War project
SAANICH -- When the Second World War broke out in Europe, Olive Bailey was 19 years old. That's when England called upon her to serve her country.
"My job was in an aircraft factory," said Bailey. CTV News caught up with her at her residence in the Broadmead Care Home on Vancouver Island Wednesday.
She was doing secretarial work in a factory that produced Halifax bombers. That's when she noticed someone acting suspiciously and reported it to her superior.
"It turns out that that individual was taking components off the Halifax's and selling them out the back door," said Roger Bailey, Olive's son.
That keen eye caught the attention of higher command and she was given a train ticket and told she had been reassigned. Little did she know she was on her way to one of the most important projects of the war.
"I was at Bletchley Park," said Bailey. "We were all very busy."
She ended up working under the direction of MI-6 at Bletchley Park. She was working on a top-secret project that would tilt the course of the war in the Allied forces' favour.
"She met all of these great mathematicians that helped us decrypt the Enigma Code," said her proud son.
The Enigma Code was once thought to be an unbreakable code which was used by Nazi Germany to send encrypted military commands to troops throughout Europe.
There was one instance while working in the bomber factory that could have ended her life, before even getting the chance to become a top-secret MI-6 codebreaker.
"They were saying, 'Take cover, take cover,'" said Bailey. "I was trying to get away to take cover and it's a good job I didn't because where I would have gone, was hit."
German bombers had targeted the factory. As the German planes were coming in, Bailey's brooch was caught on her typewriter. While struggling to free herself, bombs fell on the exact building she was meant to evacuate to.
"I had to be dug out," said Bailey.
She was dug out after being buried for nearly two days in the rubble. Her front teeth had been knocked out, but she managed to survive with no water and with only candies to eat – candies she had left in her pocket.
During her time in the military, Bailey met her husband who was working in the British Royal Air Force as an eye surgeon. He mainly focused on removing shattered glass out of the eyes of pilots who had been in air combat.
After the war, the couple and their oldest son immigrated to Canada. Here, they had two more children and were married for 75 years before he passed away last month.
Looking back on her war efforts, Bailey says she's proud of what she accomplished.
"I'm very proud of the fact of what I did," said Bailey. "Not many people did what I did."
"We won the war and that was the main thing," she said.