Friendship that stands the test of time
Marie Brady and Olive Pugh first met in 1944, nearly 80 years ago. In the years since, they served during World War II, married their respective husbands, had children and still manage to meet up for a cup of tea every now and then!
They became friends while serving in the WAAAF (Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force) which was formed in 1941 after lobbying by women keen to serve in the Air Force. It became the largest of Australia's WW II women's services.
At 18 years old, both had wanted to be of service and put their hands up. They were sent to an early training camp, called Rookies, which took place on the beach near the old Hornibrook Highway at Sandgate.
“The thing I remember is being given a hessian bag and told to go to this pile of straw and fill the hessian bag - not realising that this was going to be my mattress,” Olive smiles.
“We were given grey blankets and every day the hut was inspected by the sergeant, Rose Rothman. I've never forgotten her!”
The training lasted about four weeks, before the women were sent on to their stations. Olive was to be sent to cypher school while Marie, who had worked in a shop before joining, wanted to go into clothing.
“After Rookies, we had to go to Melbourne and I went one way and Olive went another way to another place in Melbourne,” Marie says.
“But I had an accident in Melbourne and although my placement was to be up North, I had to stay in Melbourne for a while to wait for my injury to heal. Because of that I missed my appointment and had to go back to the RAAF Command in Brisbane.”
“That's where Olive and I got together again and I met her family. I felt I had a found a lovely extended family,” she recalls.
That feeling of family is something that Marie has always treasured, as is her friendship with Olive. Together the two navigated early adulthood – sharing beds, getting up to mischief and seeing out the end of the war together.
“I always tell my daughter what a beautiful lady Olive's mother was. She was like another mother to me. Apart from Olive I also had her mum. Looking back on it all, it's really emotional. It was only for two years but it was a very special two years in our lives.” Marie says.
Marie went on to marry Tom Brady and had three children and now has many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Olive was a Corporal and about to receive her Sergeant’s stripes when the war ended. She was discharged on the 10th of January 1946.
Olive married Bill Pugh on the 8th of March 1952 and had three daughters, with the family growing to include six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
On the 21st September 2021, Marie’s daughter Kerry brought her down from her home in Toowoomba to have morning tea with her friend Olive at Bolton Clarke’s Residential Aged Care Facility in Milford Grange, proving that theirs is a friendship that has well and truly stood the test of time.