OBITUARY: Kingsbridge woman May Pryor to be laid to rest tomorrow

Monday 14th January 2019 4:32 pm
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A woman whose mother was killed by a German bomber has died in a care home.

May Pryor, nee Steer, 98, passed away in her sleep at Furzhatt Nursing Home in Plymstock before Christmas.

May, whose real name was Clara May but she hated the name Clara so insisted that everyone called her May, lived through the Second World War and was the only daughter among four brothers - Bob, Charles, Maurice and Roy.

She sadly lost her mother, Frances Lillian Steer, when a bomb destroyed their home, 12 Headland Place, Kingsbridge, adjacent to Kingsbridge Town Hall on Fore Street, on Tuesday, February 17, 1943. May was just 21.

May had married Stan Pryor on December 15, 1940. Stan signed up for the RAF and became a tail-gunner in a Wellington bomber, which was damaged and forced to land in an irrigation ditch on the Dutch island of Zeeland. Stan and the rest of his crew survived but were captured and spent the rest of the war in six different Luftwaffe Prisoner of War camps. They were liberated on April 18, 1945.

May and Stan went to live in Henacre Road, Kingsbridge, where Stan went back to his work as a cellulose car paint sprayer. Many years later, Stan took a job a garage in Swindon and they moved up there. May got a job at Deloro Stellite, and later the British Oxygen Company.

Too much smoking and too much cellulose paint spraying got the better of Stan and he died in January 1980. May moved back to Kingsbridge soon after.

She began by living in Knowle House Close, but as she got older, moved to Church Close, at the bottom of town. It was here she became friends with South Hams Newspapers advertisement manager Jane Devonshire who recalls her as a “great friend”.

Jane said: “We shared many a gin and tonic over the years - May would telephone me to see if I was busy and invite me round. The last night of the proms was a firm favourite - we would sit armed with our union jacks in one hand and gin and tonic in the other.”

After accidentally leaving her gas cooker on and nearly blowing herself up, May finally had to move to Quay Court Care Home in Kingsbridge. She later was diagnosed with dementia and moved to Furzhatt Nursing Home in Plymstock where she lived for the last two years of her life.

May’s funeral is due to be held at St Edmund’s Church, Kingsbridge, tomorrow, Tuesday, January 15, at 11.30am. The family have asked for any donations to go to the Royal British Legion and Oxfam.

More about May’s life will be in the Gazette on Friday. Thanks to May’s nephew David Steer and Delving into the Past columnist Graham Collyer for their help in compiling this story.

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