Ronald Battersby stands outside of the Oak Bay home he purchased with his late wife in 1967. Battersby turns 100 on June 8. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

‘Make the best of whatever comes your way’: Oak Bay man celebrates 100th birthday

Century-old resident purchased Oak Bay home in 1967

Ronald Battersby sits on his green velvet couch, the dappled afternoon sun illuminating the age spots on his cheeks. The 100-year-old sifts through a leather-bound book full of black and white photographs, mostly dated between 1934 and 1937: a sepia snapshot of a young boy sitting on a rocky bluff, a row of smiling teenagers in army work wear, countless airplanes.

An image of a boy, his head lifted from a pillow, smiling a bit dazedly at the camera, is dated 1936, and says ‘R.B. at Halton’ beneath it in silver pen.

“I suppose that’s me,” Battersby says.

It’s difficult to look back on a century of life, both because there’s a lot of ground to cover, and because age starts to wear on what memories you have left.

READ ALSO: ‘It just happened’: B.C. woman celebrates her 100th birthday

Born June 8, 1919 in Penrith, Cumberland, a market town in the northwest of England, Battersby spent the early years of his life “in the midst of hills, mountains and lakes.”

In a short biography he wrote a number of years ago, Battersby said “it was a great place to grow up.” But at only 15 years old he took an RAF exam for a three-year apprenticeship at a technical training school in Halton, about 65 kilometres from London.

So began his time in the British Army. Between 1937 and 1942, he served with four squadrons on eight stations and serviced eight different air crafts, “beginning with ‘Gladiators’ and ending with ‘Stirlings.’”

Ronald Battersby, about to turn 100, stands with son Kevin Battersby outside his Oak Bay home. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Battersby was drafted to overseas duty and described the morning the ship he sailed on was escorted to a new station, where he and 200 other men would put together “Hurricanes and Spitfires for the defence of Malta and the North African campaign.”

He said the station was attacked, resulting in the death of one man from his RAF group. Battersby himself carried out the “burial at sea” by pushing the man’s body overboard.

His military career continued and included a brief training stint in Winnipeg – a stint which would later become the motivation for his move to Canada after the Second World War.

In Winnipeg, Battersby worked for the United Grain Growers, until he met Anne Cromarty, and 11 years after they married in 1954, the couple moved, by rail, to the West Coast, and eventually bought their Oak Bay home in 1967.

Battersby worked for Canada Post while the couple raised two sons, Keith and Kevin.

Cromarty died at 91 in 2016, after 65 years of marriage. Battersby still lives in their Oak Bay home, surrounded by photo albums, books and 1960s-era furniture.

When asked how he feels about turning 100, Battersby said, “I feel much the same as I did yesterday and last year.”

He still goes for regular walks, sometimes all the way down to the water. And he meets regularly with a local stamp collectors club.

His advice for aging is simple: “When it comes down to it, you just realize this is the way it is, and you either like it or lump it,” he said.

“Make the best of whatever comes your way.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Falling oak tree causes minor damage to Langford home

Tree damages garden and gutters of home on Lindsay Place

Saanich junior hockey team drops Braves name

Club moves on after 53-years with First Nations logo

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Most Read