Reflections of Life

Across the Pond

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The staff and volunteers of St. Francis Reflections have the privilege of pinning United States Military Veterans as a way of honoring their service. In May, St. Francis Reflections had a unique opportunity to pin a friend from across the pond. St. Francis Reflection’s staff were joined by Lieutenant General William Welser, III to pin a very special former member of the allied forces, Roberta “Bobbie” Schwartz. During the pinning Bobbie’s story was shared by her niece Lynn Cline…

97 years ago in a small industrial town of St. Helens in Lancashire, England, Elsie Maynard (now known as ‘Bobbie’ Schwartz) was born. As a young girl she sought out adventure and was always in trouble for doing things she was told not to do. One day she told her mother that she was going shopping, with a friend, into Liverpool. The government were recruiting service personnel at the beginning of WWII and the two of them decided to enlist but she was not old enough and lied about her age. Shortly after their little escapade a letter arrived at the house informing her to report for duty. It was the first that her parents had heard of this and needless to say they were not too pleased about it. Her father had served in WWI and was also serving in WWII so this could have influenced her decision to sign up.

She was based at Magdalen College in England and to the outside world she was a typist. In 2017 she was invited to go with the Veterans of America to Washington D.C on the Honor Flight. It was a memorable trip for her as she was honored for her service in WWII and was inducted into the Women’s War Memorial Museum in Arlington, Virginia and finally ‘her secret life’ was revealed. Special permission had to be given by the British Government to release this information due to the Official Secrets Act. The information showed that she was:

“A Cryptologist at Magdalen College in Oxford and she had worked on the preparation for the landings at Normandy on D-Day. This was especially important to her as her father, a Veteran of WWI and WWII was scheduled to take part in the Normandy invasion”

It was on Bobbie’s Honor Flight trip that she met General Welser. During the pinning ceremony he said she was one of the funniest people he knows. He joined her via Zoom to perform the ceremony, her niece Lynn joined on the phone, and the team from St. Francis Reflections was by her side for her pinning. She was presented with a special pin of the Women’s Auxiliary Royal Air Force that was sent over from England for her, a certificate of appreciation and personalized handmade quilt. While she didn’t say much, her smiles said it all. 

During World War II allies joined forces to fight for freedom and today we were privileged to honor and thank Bobbie for her work that impacted the world for good. You can share your support of our Veterans by purchasing a special This Home Honors Veterans signs, one will be placed in the yard of a Veteran. https://reflectionslsc.org/about/foundation/support-how-we-honor-veterans/

 Reflections of Life Articles: Summer 2022

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