Great grandmother from Lindfield celebrates 100th birthday

Eileen Barnes with her family
Eileen Barnes with her family

A war widow who lives in Lindfield has celebrated her 100th birthday with her family.

Mrs Eileen Barnes was born on September 23, 1915, and lived most of her life in Tonbridge, Kent, until she moved to Lindfield in 1997 to be nearer to her family.

She married her husband Alfred Barnes on Easter Monday, 1939, and they set up home in London until the Blitz forced them to move back to Tonbridge.

They had two children, Iris and Bryan, before Alfred was called up to serve as a gunner with the Royal Artillery and sent to the Far East.

He was captured by the Japanese in Singapore in 1942 and put to work on the Burma Death Railway, where he died on July 16, 1943. Eileen Barnes was not informed of her husband’s death until after the war ended.

She then bought up her two young children, working in a children’s day nursery and then as a cook in a school kitchen so that she had time off during the school holidays.

When her children were older, she decided to train as a nurse and after three years of study and practical experience, she qualified as a State Enrolled Nurse serving in hospitals in West Kent.

In 1985, she was able to make an emotional journey with her son to visit her husband’s grave in the cemetary in Kanchanaburi in Thailand.

She has been a member of the Royal British Legion and a few years ago was able to attend the Annual Service of Rememberance at the Royal Albert Hall.

After moving to Lindfield, she lived in sheltered accomodation at Little Compton, before moving to Compton House Christian Nursing Home in 2012.

She enjoys a game of scrabble with other residents.

Eileen Barnes celebrated her milestone birthday with her two children, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

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