Redlands woman Clare Dunn celebrates her 100th birthday

Triple figures: Redlands woman Clare Dunn is 100. She celebrated at Seaton Place with family and friends.
Triple figures: Redlands woman Clare Dunn is 100. She celebrated at Seaton Place with family and friends.

A Redlands woman whose stoic nature helped her see off two bouts of cancer and the Germans in World War II has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Priscilla (Clare) Dunn's walls were adorned with letters of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth, prime ministers and politicians, but she wasn't making a fuss about her milestone.

Mrs Dunn emigrated from Essex as a 10 pound Pom in 1956 with husband Ray, a Spitfire pilot who served alongside Sir Douglas Bader - famous for flying with tin legs - in the war.

"He had a place where he could land his plane when he visited North Weald, and he told my husband he could use it when he wanted," Mrs Dunn said.

Son Colin was 11 when the family left England, and daughter Anita was nine. Mrs Dunn was left a widow in 1969 when Mr Dunn died.

"It's a long time to be on your own," she said.

She remembered a welcoming community for the parents, but the children had a rough time adapting to their schools.

"The schools were really cruel to English kids," she said.

The family became famous when they moved to the Redlands. Colin ran Col Dunn Motors and later Superformance, while Anita owned Anita Clare Beauty Salon.

Wartime romance: Ray and Clare Dunn on their wedding day in 1942. They came to Australia in 1966, and Clare was left a widow in 1969.

Wartime romance: Ray and Clare Dunn on their wedding day in 1942. They came to Australia in 1966, and Clare was left a widow in 1969.

Their father's photo and uniform still hangs in the Redlands Museum.

Mrs Dunn has five grandchildren and eight grandchildren. They helped her celebrate at Seaton Place Aged Care home.

She has plenty of stories to reminisce about. Mrs Dunn remembers watching the Luftwaffe bombers attack London from nearby Chingford Mount.

The war came too close to home one day. The Germans were targeting a nearby reservoir and small arms factory, and a bomb hit at the end of the Dunns' street.

Colin, still a baby, was lucky to escape serious injury.

"All the roof fell in, and he was in his cot at the side of the bed," Mrs Dunn said.

"I thought he was dead, but when we got all things off, he was fast asleep."

While Mr Dunn was fighting, Mrs Dunn also contributed to the war effort. The firm she worked at made parts for bailey bridges, which were used extensively carry tanks over rivers.

She has battled breast and bowel cancer, and had three hip replacements, and Mrs Dunn has good genes for living a long life.

Brother Ernest lived to 97, and Arthur was 93 when he passed away.

These days, Mrs Dunn enjoys reading and puzzles. A flautist plays once a month and there are quizzes every week.

Anita said the staff at Seaton Place did a great job looking after her mother.

"They are lovely," she said.