Second world war heroine passes away, aged 90

Jean Barker
Jean Barker

An Aldwick woman who worked as one of the famous code-breakers in the Second World War has died.

Hilda Jane Barker, usually known as Jean, died peacefully at home last Tuesday a month after her 90th birthday. Her funeral will be at Chichester Crematorium at 1.15pm next Monday.

Jean bravely faced her final struggle with declining helth after an interesting, varied and unselfish life.

During the war, she was hand-picked to work at Station X - the government’s Engima code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park - but it was not until 1995 the secrecy which surrounded the vital work was lifted. Jean proudly wore her Bletchley Park Medal 50 years after her top secret work.

One of the rare social events for her team saw her dance with Hollywood screen idol Clark Gable, though she claimed she was unaware of his identity until later.

Jean was one of seven children and grew up in Bewdley in Worcestershire.She met and married Jeff, a sailor, a few miles away in his home town of Stourbridge.

Once their two daughters were old enough, Jeff and Jean became house parents for Dr Barnado’s Homes at three of its homes until they closed. The couple returned to Stourbridge and worked in the West Midlands until their retirement. They moved to Abingdon and became active in the Royal Naval Association and the HMS Warspite Association in which Jeff served.

Widowed in 1999, Jean moved to be with her daughter, Joy, and son-in-law, John Miller in North Devon and then, in 2005, to Aldwick.

Mr Miller said: “Jean’s abiding happiness through all her years was in knowing she had done something for other people.”

Jean leaves two daughters, five grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.