Harry Stedman, PA
Mon, 6 March 2023 at 7:30 pm GMT
Two women who served in the British armed forces during the Second World War have been honoured at an event ahead of International Women’s Day.
Marie Scott, 96, and Mildred Schutz, 99, were guests of honour at the Royal Air Force Club in Piccadilly, central London, for the event organised by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans.
Mrs Scott transmitted messages to and from French beaches during the D-Day landings in 1944, and Mrs Schutz served with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Italy.
Asked about the position of women now, Mrs Scott told the PA news agency: “The glass ceilings have been cracked – women can do anything if they wish, if they’re trained.
“We’re not competing with men, we’re partners with men.”
Asked whether she felt like an inspiration for young women today, Mrs Schutz said: “I don’t think so, not with being this age – you’re just a couple of old dears.”
The women also recalled some of the frightening situations they encountered during the war.
Recalling working on D-Day itself, Mrs Scott, who lives in New Malden, south-west London, said: “In my ears, I was in a war. My contacts (at) the other end of the VHF set were the troops landing on the beaches.
“The sounds were terrifying – loud cannons, machine-gun fire, bombs dropping, men screaming orders, men screaming from pain. It was chaos.”
Mrs Schutz, who lives in Worcester Park, south-west London, was posted to a “very scruffy fishing village” in Italy and lived under the constant threat of death.
She said: “The Germans had announced all our backgrounds, so we knew if we got caught that was the end of you.”
Both women shared their experiences and thoughts on gender equality in a Q&A session and were each presented with a posy of flowers, before all guests were treated to afternoon tea.
Joining them were serving personnel from HMS Diamond, The King’s Troop and The Household Cavalry and guests from the Netherlands.
The Taxi Charity, which relies entirely on donations, has been arranging free trips for veterans from all conflicts to the Netherlands and France or social events across the UK since its inception in 1948.
It has launched a campaign to raise £75,000 this year, to coincide with its 75th anniversary.
Frances Luczyc Wyhowska, Taxi Charity vice president, said: “Without the taxis, none of this would be possible. The black cabs are fantastic – they all volunteer (and) they love the veterans.”
She added: “Our cab drivers, male and female, are always proud to pick veterans up.”
Ms Wyhowska said meeting both women was “living history” and that such events help veterans who may be struggling with isolation issues.
International Women’s Day is on Wednesday March 8, with this year’s theme being Embrace Equity.