William Robinson Clarke

‘War bride reunited with RAF hero husband’

1917 - 2017

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Beatrice ‘Bobbi’ Osborn travelled on the Empire Windrush from Bermuda with her toddler daughter Wendy to join her husband, Geoffrey. He was training in the UK to be an air traffic controller.

The couple had met in England while she was a nurse and he was in hospital recovering from injuries sustained as a Bermudian RAF pilot during the Second World War. Following a whirlwind romance, they were married in 1944 and eventually set up home together in Bermuda.

Bobbi, née Durham, returned to Bermuda with Wendy a few months after arriving in England on the Windrush, sailing from Liverpool in October 1948. Born in London on November 8, 1917, she moved to Christchurch in Hampshire with her parents and six siblings while she was still a babe in arms. Her father was a tobacconist and prosperous enough to be able to employ a live-in housekeeper.

Geoffrey migrated to Bermuda from Hampshire with his family when he was seven. In 1938, he joined the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and, as the threat of war was turning into reality, learned to fly at the Bermuda Flying School the following year before joining the RAF in England.

After rising to the rank of flight lieutenant, he twice had to crash land his bomber plane but managed to rescue crew members while suffering severe burns himself. His bravery would earn him the George Medal.

After the second crash, his injuries prevented him from resuming operational flying. He returned to Bermuda to operate transport aircraft and continue his recovery. In May 1945, Bobbi sailed from Cardiff to Canada en route to Bermuda where she would be reunited with her husband. She was shown on the passenger list as ‘VAD’, meaning she was a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, a unit of civilian volunteers providing medical care for military personnel.

The newlyweds built a house called Mazarine, close to Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda. They would later have another child, Michael.

Geoffrey’s work as an air traffic controller took the family to Germany and Northern Rhodesia – now Zambia – before he assumed a training role at Stansted and Gatwick airports in England.

The couple returned to Bermuda in 1966 when Geoffrey joined the country’s Department of Civil Aviation. He became director of civil aviation and later permanent secretary for transport.

Bobbi was a ‘Pink Lady’ volunteer at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital where she was able to apply her nursing skills. She also painted scenes of Bermudan life professionally.

After Geoffrey’s retirement in 1985, the family emigrated to South Carolina, where Geoffrey’s sister and brother-in-law lived. Wendy also settled there. Geoffrey died in 2011, and Bobbi passed away on March 19, 2017, aged 100. She is buried in the family plot in Bermuda.

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