Marigold Hoare was born July 9 1925 and grew up at Chelsea, in London. In 1937 Hoare and her family moved to the countryside, which she says she greatly disliked. Her brother and father had been lifeguards in the army. But she decided to take a different route by becoming a volunteer in the Navy as a WREN because she liked the colour of the uniform and was a big fan of British naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson.
During the war, women took on the jobs of men who had gone off to fight on the battlefront. At the time, this was radical as women’s roles in society were often viewed as doing just domestic work in the home. Hoare’s first job was charging batteries for planes at a Fleet Air Arm station in the Midlands. This was considered a low ranked role and Hoare admits that she wasn’t particularly good at it.
During this time, Hoare had a wartime sweetheart who was a submariner. But the young man was killed in action. She vividly remembers falling off a lorry while at work and this, combined with the fact that her job was soon deemed as unsuitable for women, as the batteries were too heavy for them to carry, led to look for another job. Not long afterwards, Hoare therefore went on to become a fleet mail clerk. This resulted in her getting training behind a post office counter where she sorted mail.
The new role took her to Sri Lanka, in the Indian sub-continent. In those days it was the British colony of Ceylon. She was based there for about a year and a half. The opportunity to travel abroad was one of the main reasons why she decided to take on the job, as she wasn’t very enthusiastic about the work itself. Hoare said she was pleased to eventually be demobilised after the war and have the chance to “start life again”.