United Kingdom

Former Army Major thought to be Britain's oldest female WWII veteran dies aged 108

A former Army Major thought to be Britain's oldest surviving female World War Two veteran has died at the age of 108.

Gladys Anne Logan Robson - known as Anne- passed away at a care home in Scotland earlier this week.

Mrs Robson, who was also the oldest surviving member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC), was born in September 1911.

She lived through 20 prime ministers, four monarchs, the first space launch and the advent of new technology, not to mention two world wars.

She is said to have had fond memories of VE Day - and always had a 'naughty twinkle in her eye' remembering the victory celebrations.

Gladys Robson (left, and right during World War Two) has died aged 108 and was thought to be the oldest surviving female veteran of the conflict 

Her niece, Katharine Trotter, 68, said last night: 'She was sprightly and still very alert until just few weeks ago.

'She was remarkably on the ball right through Christmas and New Year. She never complained and she seems to have been quite popular with everyone.'

Mrs Robson trained as a physiotherapist in 1933 before becoming a PE teacher later that year and was teaching when war broke out in 1939.

After hearing that a women's section of the army was being formed, she decided that there was no better way to get involved.

She became training sergeant at Dunblane Physical Training School in 1942 and rose quickly through the ranks to become a senior commander of the War Office at Aldershot, where she was in charge of the physical fitness of all the women in the ATS.

'It was a huge job that involved coordinating teams in Scotland, England and Germany,' she said recently.

'Many of the women were working in unhealthy conditions in underground offices and never saw light of day, so getting them out in the fresh air and doing exercise such as archery, athletics and games was really important to keeping them fit and healthy.'

Mrs Robson completed her service in the rank of Major as Assistant Inspector ATS Physical Training.

After the war ended, she remained in the service for two years but later became a senior lecturer at the Avery Hill College of Education in London.

She married headmaster Jack Robson in 1953 and the couple moved to Newcastle where Anne became deputy head at the Longhenton Secondary Modern School.

She never had children and after Jack died in 1972, she moved back home to Scotland to live in St Andrews where she was a JP and remained fiercely independent until after her 100th birthday.

She eventually moved into residential care in Edinburgh at the age of 105 - and would take to the stage at Christmas and give an annual speech.

She was also regularly in the frontline for exercise classes - putting many of her younger friends to shame.

Up until last year she loved the parallel bars and in an interview at the time she said: 'If you sit around and don't do very much your joints get stiff - you just deteriorate.

'It's very important to make the effort to keep active and it is an effort when you get to over 100. You have to make yourself do it!

'I can no longer do the things I really enjoy, such as listening to music, but when I do the exercise classes and go for walks around the grounds, it does me a lot of good.'

Friends described her as reserved and a 'gentle woman' with a 'naughty sense of humour'.

The WRAC said they believed she was the oldest WW2 veteran in the UK. Mrs Robson is survived by her younger sister Elizabeth, 104.

Mrs Trotter said there would be a private funeral, but a memorial service was being planned for later in the year.