Christian Lamb, a parishioner of The Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Chelsea, received a very special birthday greeting on her 100th birthday…a blessing from the Holy Father himself.
Christian was born in London in July 1920 as the world was reeling from another pandemic, the Spanish Flu, and drama seemed to dog her early life. In 1939, while on holiday in France, she received an urgent telegram from her father, Admiral Ronald Wolseley Oldham, ‘WAR DECLARED COME HOME AT ONCE.’ Christian returned on the last boat to England from France.
On her return she enrolled in the Women’s Royal Naval Service and was serving at WREN headquarters in London at the time of the London Blitz.
Promoted to Leading Wren, she ran the degaussing range at the Coal House Fort, Tilbury. After being promoted to Third Officer in the middle of the war, she also took an active role in the Battle for the Atlantic, running the plot at Belfast Castle where the Royal Navy planned its operations against German U Boats.
It was here that she met Lt Commander John Lamb DSC. As was common in those days, theirs was a short courtship and they were engaged within only 10 days. But his role and hers made it a challenging relationship: she spent a tense and anxious time plotting the movements of his destroyer on her Atlantic Maps as it was surrounded by U Boats, but refused to leave her post.
Thankfully John survived and they were married at St James Church, Spanish Place London in 1943.
Christian was then recruited for the top-secret job of plotting the D-Day landing crafts for the invasion. Her office was a secret basement room in Whitehall where she often passed Churchill on the stairs. It was here in a map-lined room and relying on Ordnance Survey maps and secretly gathered reconnaissance maps and photographs that she had the painstaking role of plotting each compass bearing that could be seen from the coast of France.
Her daughter was born in October 1944 and Christian left the WRNS and followed the fleet as a Naval officers wife to Singapore and Malaya after the war before the family settled in Cornwall in the 1950s. She went on to have two sons and took up gardening and helped restore a 300-year-old garden in Cornwall.
Not one to let the grass grow under her feet she took a degree and then took up writing and lecturing in her 80s, publishing four books.
In a nice twist of fate her 100th birthday cake and her wedding cake were both made by the same company, Searcys.
Now a widow, grandmother and great grandmother, she told the Universe that she looks back nostalgically over ten exciting decades but hasn’t finished yet; she has recently taken up painting and is working on her fifth book.
However, her faith remains as important to her now as it always has been, and her papal blessing is among her most prized possessions.
Picture: Christian and John on their wedding day in 1943.