Born: July 22, 1919; Died: October 23, 2012.
Sheila Murray, who has died aged 93, was a former Wren and an eyewitness to the parachute landing of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess at Eaglesham during the Second World War.
For 18 months, she was also private secretary to the Marchioness of Graham, Duchess of Montrose, assisting her late into the night answering correspondence and requests for help from South African and Rhodesian servicemen. Nights were also spent ripping out socks which had been poorly knitted by volunteers, then re-knitting them to be donated to the servicemen.
Mrs Murray was born in Glasgow, a daughter of Ella and Herbert Stewart. She worked for the Duchess after the Second World War was declared before volunteering for the Women's Royal Naval Service. It was while she was with the Wrens she witnessed Royal Air Force pilots forcing Rudolf Hess to parachute out of his plane near Glasgow. The next day, she and many others hiked up to Floors Farm where Hess had landed.
Later she was called to service in Dundee and was part of the first group of 20 Wrens to pass safely through the Suez Canal, which had just been re-opened, and reach South Africa. The ship which followed was torpedoed and all the Wrens were lost. Mrs Murray was among the last group of Wrens to return to Britain after helping to sort and destroy records after the end of the war. After being demobbed on her return to Britain, she was secretary to an MP with the Scottish Unionist Party. As part of her job, she would meet with former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
She was determined to marry her love, Frank Murray, who was living in India, even though all leave had been cancelled. So she flew out, by herself, to India in 1948, just after independence was declared. En route, she and the other passengers were briefly held in Cairo after a coup d-etat. Of her marriage ceremony, she would say: "I knew none of my bridesmaids or the man who gave me away, but I did know the groom."
Whenever asked about her life, Mrs Murray would say she had been fortunate, having a good family, being able to travel all over the world, meeting many people from all walks of life and having worked in fascinating jobs. She was lucky enough to say: "I've had a good life."
Mrs Murray, who lived in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, is survived by her daughter, Sandra; son-in-law, David Morrisette; and two grandsons, Gordon and Duncan. She also leaves brother-in-law, Douglas Reith, in Edinburgh; a niece, Alison, and a nephew, David; a niece, Elizabeth, in Greece, and a niece, Maureen, in England. She was predeceased by her sisters, Betty Reith and Eileen Reid.
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