Mary Coward

Mary Coward during the war years.
Mary Coward during the war years.
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Mary Coward, who has died
at 93, was one of Sheffield’s Women of Steel, whose bravery during the Blitz is commemorated by a statue in the city centre.

Mrs Coward was one of the workers who turned out components for Spitfires at the Thompson Engineering steelworks in Townhead Street, while the regular staff were away at war. She was among thousands of women who kept the factories going for the duration.

She started doing 12-hour shifts in 1940, aged just 15, and remained at the plant until the end of the war in 1945. She was among the witnesses to the bombing of Sheffield in December 1940, which left more than 660 dead.

Her son Anthony, said: “She walked to work from her home in Nodder Road, Woodthorpe, and witnessed the devastation of the raid, scrambling over rubble in Fitzalan Square, as bodies were being recovered from the Marples Hotel, which took a direct hit.”

After the war she became a supermarket worker, in retirement supporting the campaign to raise money for the Women of Steel statue in Barker’s Pool, which was finally unveiled just two years ago

She felt it had been “about time”, her son said.

She is survived by two children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.