A VETERAN who played a vital role in the war effort will celebrate her 100th birthday at Barrow Golf Club on April 24. 

Ella Thompson lives in Walney and was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War Two.

This was the women's branch of the army which helped on the domestic front by maintaining supplies for the troops. 

Ella is originally from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. She moved out of her home at a young age and lived for a period of time in Leicester. She recalls seeing the smoke from the carpet bombing of Coventry 25 miles away. 

The Mail: Ella in her ATS uniform in World War 2Ella in her ATS uniform in World War 2 (Image: Brian Thompson)

She originally joined the ATS in Hereford at Bradbury Lines which would later become the home of the SAS. 

She moved to Lancaster and did work on artillery guns. There she would meet her future husband James. She learned how to drive a lorry at the same time as the then Princess Elizabeth but was not allowed to continue driving one when her superiors found out she needed a cushion to see over the dashboard. 

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Life was hard for Ella when she was a young woman, but she carried on.

Her son Brian said: "When she got married she moved to Barrow and started a family. She lost a baby in 1943 from pneumonia. A second sister died in 1947, her heart was born in reverse, and she only lasted four weeks.

The Mail: Ella with her husband James Ella with her husband James (Image: Brian Thompson)

"My sister and my brother came along in 1949 and 1952, I was born in 1963." 

Ella returned to work in 1967 as a dinner lady at Ormsgill Infants and Juniors. Brian said: "I can walk around town with her and there are people about my age and even ten years younger who recognise her."

Some of the teachers she knew from her time there will be going to her birthday party.

Ella's husband James died in 2006. She has a visiting carer and her daughter lives nearbt but she still lives independently at home. 

The Mail: Ella Thompson in her home in WalneyElla Thompson in her home in Walney (Image: Brian Thompson)

Brian compared Ella's "feisty" spirit to the Dylan Thomas poem Do not go gentle into that good night. 

He said: "Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. That's her. She won't entertain going in a home, only when she decides to go. She said: 'I won't go in there with old people!'"