From supplying secret agents to headmaster's secretary, Patricia celebrates centenary

Patricia Buxton with her card from The Queen.

Patricia Buxton with her card from The Queen. - Credit: David Buxton

A wartime "Q" in a secret government department has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Patricia Buxton marked the occasion on October 15 at Tara’s Retreat residential care home outside Sandridge, surrounded by cards and presents from friends, family and the Queen.

She lunched with family then enjoyed greetings from staff and other residents.

Patricia, one of nine children to Canon King in Holt, Norfolk was educated at Christs Hospital, Hertford.

She briefly worked at Gresham’s School, Holt, before her sister, who had a position in MI5, arranged an interview for her at the department's offices in Baker Street and within a few hours she was off in a car to an unknown government department located near Welwyn.

This was situated in a mansion called The Frythe, which had been an exclusive hotel but was commandeered in August 1939 by the British Directorate of Military Intelligence.

Known as Station IX, it was run as an equipment factory by the Special Operations Executive, supporting agents and cells of resistance behind enemy lines throughout occupied Europe.

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The small Welbike paratrooper's motorcycle, the Welfreighter miniature submarine and the Welrod assassination weapon were all products of the station.

Patricia subsequently spent the war supplying secret agents with weapons, transport and communications equipment for their covert operations overseas, arguably a similar role to "Q" in the James Bond series.

During her time there she married Captain Ray Buxton of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and later the 12th Army Photographic Intelligence.

Post-war, she became export manager of Ballito Hosiery, examinations secretary at St Albans Further Education, and lastly secretary to the headmaster at St Albans School.

After retirement she helped in the bookshop at St Albans Cathedral. Pat is the mother of three children, with seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.