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A CHALFONT St Peter woman who mixed with royalty, met Adolf Hitler and survived a mugging has celebrated her 100th birthday.
Leonora Rush, who is known as Nora, was born on May 17, 1912, in Rockhampton, Australia.
She was brought up in Sydney, where she attended one of the city’s leading private schools.
At the age of 19, Mrs Rush left Australia to travel to London by boat, to begin work as a nurse.
She became the night nurse for First World War hero Admiral Jellicoe and looked after him through his final days.
At his funeral in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1935, she sat behind the Prince of Wales – later King Edward VIII – who was in the middle of his affair with Wallis Simpson.
Mrs Rush told her family in later years that there was a lot of scandalised gossip at the time. Mrs Simpson was not allowed into the cathedral and had to wait outside during the service
Shortly after, she went on holiday to Berlin with a friend and met Adolf Hitler at an art exhibition. He came over to shake her hand after hearing there were some ‘pretty English girls’ present.
Mrs Rush later described Hitler to her family as ‘a very ordinary little man’.
She returned to Australia in 1938, where she met her future husband, who was a young Indian Army officer. They married in 1939 and went on to have three children.
During the Second World War, the Japanese invaded Singapore, where Mr Rush had been posted. Mrs Rush was evacuated on the last ship to get out of the country safely – the following boat was torpedoed. After the war, the family eventually moved to Chalfont St Peter.
In August 2010, Mrs Rush – 98 at the time – was mugged by a young woman on her way home from shopping. No one has been charged with the incident, and shortly afterwards, she moved to a care home near Stoke Mandeville.
Her son Jonathan said: “I hope my mother’s 100th birthday will make her attacker feel some remorse and give herself up.”