Mary "Elizabeth" Nares (1920-2002)

The daughter of Ramsay "Llewelyn" Nares, she was born on 27 Mar 1920 in London.  She was educated at St Paul's Girl's School and went to Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read history.  She was all prepared to accept a job with the Ministry of Agriculture, (a prospect that did not fill her with great enthusiasm!), when she was recruited, in June 1942, to join the ATS and work with the Intelligence Corps.  She was posted to Beaumanor in Leicestershire where she was trained for work at Bletchley Park (or Station X, as it was known).  She was assigned to the Direction Finding Section which collated bearings on German "Enigma" encoded radio transmissions throughout Europe and North Africa.  Pinpointing the source of a decoded message was crucial intelligence information and they were a surprisingly small team, (only a dozen or so working round the clock in eight-hour shifts), considering the value of the outcome of their efforts.  It always surprised her that the vows of secrecy that all workers at Bletchley took (and there were over 12,000 by the end of the War) were kept so rigorously 'til they were allowed to reveal details in the 1980's.

She was demobbed in 1946 and joined the British Red Cross in 1948, which looked after over 50 branches of the organisation in British dependent territories.  She started as secretary to the Director of Overseas Branches and between 1955 and 1962 worked as a Field Officer, advising branches of the BRC in Cyprus, the Bahamas, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), and the Caribbean.  She then returned to London where she became Assistant Director of the Overseas Development Dept and in 1966 became its Director.  During this period most of the dependent territories were achieving independence and her primary role was in assisting them to establish their own Red Cross Societies.  Between 1967 and 1971 she visited Hong Kong, the Pacific Islands, Mauritius and the Caribbean.  At this stage the HQ of the BRC underwent some re-organisation and she became Deputy Director of the International Welfare and Overseas Affairs Dept., and in 1975 was promoted to become its Director.  She retired in 1977 to live in Sussex, and died at King Edward VII hospital, Midhurst, on 8th June 2002 .