L is for Ruby Loftus

I am again focusing on the famous, the forgotten and the misbegotten for Round 23 of the popular ABC Wednesday meme. But finding suitable characters is getting harder, so apologies in advance if there are repeats of previous posts.

Ruby LoftusWorld War Two was a time for heroes, both on the battlefield and on the home front, and one of those was a machine operator, Ruby Loftus.

Loftus was born in Llanhilleth in South Wales and in 1940 she and her sisters were assigned to work at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Newport. She proved herself to be exceptionally skilful in operating a lathe and was chosen to work on the breech-ring component of the 40-millimetre Bofors anti-aircraft gun.

This was a technically challenging task that was usually carried out by men with eight or nine years experience in the engineering shop. Such was Ruby’s rapid progress that a deputation from Woolwich Arsenal was sent to see her skills for themselves.

She was immortalised by Dame Laura Knight in the painting ‘Ruby Loftus screwing a Breech-ring’ (above) which was commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1943.

Ruby Loftus

The painting was voted Picture of the Year and the South Wales Argus described the scene: ‘A shy girl with brown eyes and her hair in a victory roll.’

Loftus returned to work and later in 1943 married a lance-corporal in the 11th Hussars. After the war, the government offered to sponsor her on a college engineering course which she refused. Instead, she and her husband emigrated to British Columbia in Canada.

She last visited the UK in 1962 when she met Dame Laura Knight again to see her painting hanging in the Imperial War Museum in London. She suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years and died in 2004.

Below is a wartime newsreel showing Ruby Loftus and Dame Laura Knight and the painting at the Royal Academy.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

7 comments… Add yours
  • Cathy Kennedy 26th September 2018

    I’m new to this weekly meme and today is my second time participating. I thought for some reason it was an ABC prompt for photographs so it’s good to know that I can do more than just share a picture. 🙂

    I enjoyed reading about Ruby Loftus. There were many unlikely heroes to merge from the great world wars like our very own Rosie the Riveter. These iconic herorine with the “Can Do” spirit did what was necessary to suppor their fathers, brothers, and husbands who were away fighting. It’s good to remember these people and how much better we are for them. Thanks for sharing and it’s nice meeting you through the ABC Wednesdays hop!

    Curious as a Cathy sharing Fort Loudon Lake & more! 😉

    • Mr Parrot 26th September 2018

      Thanks for visiting Cathy. The ABC Wednesday meme is whatever you want it to be – so long as it’s in alphabetical order!

  • Su-sieee! Mac 27th September 2018

    I wonder what wonders Ruby may have invented or developed had she become an engineer. I hope she lived a happy life.

  • Roger O Green 27th September 2018

    Yes, Cathy. I’ve been doing this meme for 20 rounds now, Seldom have I done just a picture.
    Mr. Parrot is one of our finest contributors.

  • ABC Wednesday 27th September 2018

    Another impressive person you brought to the stage… never heard of her before but that does not matter luckaly

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l d y ♪ (ABC-W-team)

  • Trevor Rowley 14th October 2018

    A slight digression. To use an old British expression, “the penny has dropped.” The Bofors anti-aircraft gun was prominent in the play, “Events while guarding the Bofors Gun” which subsequently became the film, “The Bofors Gun.” This British production from 1968 featured a number of (all male?) cast members who were either already household names or were shortly to become so (John Thaw, David Warner, Ian Holm). But the one who did it for me was Nicol Williamson who plays the anti-hero, Gunner O’Rourke, who has killed himself come the production’s end. I can’t remember Nicol Williamson in anything else (although clearly he was) but, in this particular production, he was an absolute monster who played nastiness to the limit. Worth a peep for any of you who haven’t already seen it.

  • Mr Parrot 15th October 2018

    Nicol Williamson was one of my favourite actors but this film has passed me by. And having read the synopsis, it sounds pretty grim viewing!


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