DH Alumna and Wartime Codebreaker, Diana Fawkes dies peacefully at the age of 103

DH Alumna Diana Fawkes (nee Weir) and her sister Anna attended Downe House in the late 1920s and early 1930s whilst her brothers both went to Winchester College.

As an athletic young woman, her passion for skiing combined with a desire to learn German took her to Austria in 1936 where she was selected for the British Ladies’ Olympic Ski team although sadly, the 1940 games were scuppered by the outbreak of war.

Having qualified as a bi-lingual secretary, she was then recruited in 1938 to be assistant to Dilly Knox, the famous Chief Cryptographer of GC & CS (the forerunner of GCHQ) and found herself among the first codebreakers at Bletchley Park where her knowledge of German was put to good use.

In 1942, she married Rev George Fawkes, a Royal Naval Chaplain who, after a distinguished naval career, became the Rector of Compton and so they settled into parish life. Keen to keep up her German, Diana joined the Winchester Cathedral Guild of Voluntary Guides as a German language specialist. She was delighted to have ducked the Guides’ normal retirement policy by never admitting her age – and finally retired at 94!

She was a committed member of the congregation of St Mary’s Twyford and managed to attend services until aged 100, when failing mobility and eyesight meant a move to the Old Parsonage, Otterbourne.

Diana is survived by her sister Anna, daughter Caroline, son Nigel, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Our condolences go to her family at this time.

A memorial service takes place in Compton Church on Friday 21st April 2017 at 2pm.

Posted: 20th Apr 2017

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