Proposed by A Williams STOCCA (Six Towns One City Carnival Association)
Ena Collymore-Woodstock (10 September 1917) set sail from Jamaica to England in 1943 in response to a recruitment advert from the British War Office. On arrival she was behind a desk. Objecting, she wrote to her army boss saying,
“I haven’t come all this way just to be stuck behind a typewriter!”
It set her on the path to become the first black female radar operator defending the coast of Britain with a team of ack-ack girls (women doing what was considered a men’s jobs at that period in history) during 1943 and 1944. Later she was deployed to Belgium, close to enemy lines.
She said: “There weren’t many women in the Army at that time and very few women of colour.
“I wanted to do my part and I felt special. We all knew we were doing things for the first time. I hadn’t joined up just to type and I was very insistent about that.
“I wanted to be where the action was. I felt British, I was young and single, so why not go and fight? My generation of women were determined to prove we were capable. I helped show what women could achieve despite there being no female role models at senior level of society at the time.”
Daily Mail 31 October 20 in the article Britain’s oldest surviving female WWII veteran
After the War she stayed in England and studied law at Grays Inn, where she was the only woman on the debate team, and was Vice President of the Inns of Court Students Union. She was the third woman to qualify as a Barrister in Jamaica and the first to actively practice.
Collymore-Woodstock had a distinguished career in the Jamaican and Caribbean judiciary – Her Honour Ena Collymore-Woodstock MBE OD
Read more about Ena Collymore-Woodstock
The Gleaner – a lovely tribute to Ena Collymore-Woodstock
ISSU – Women in the Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Religion