Leading Firewoman Olive Fanny Gosden passed away on 11 December 1958 aged 38.


Olive was born on 14 August 1920 to parents Ernest Realey, a furniture delivery driver, and Lily. For much of her younger life they lived at 30 Caesars Road but by the time of the 1939 Register the family were resident at 48 New Street where an elder brother Harry is also listed.

Olive was a scholar and later teacher at the Pyle Street Sunday School and an active worker in many aspects of Methodist church life; later becoming the leader of the Young Wives Fellowship.

In 1938 when the call came for volunteers in the civil defence services she volunteered for the Auxiliary Fire Service and worked alongside her brother Harry at Newport's Air Raid Precautions Report Centre; the central hub for the communication of fires and despatch of resources throughout the Island. 

She was noted to have been among the first four women of the Island to join the AFS and was soon promoted to Leading Firewoman Realey. During the course of her duties she met William Charles Gosden, a Newport AFS fireman. They continued to work within the fire service when the NFS was formed in August 1941. The pair fell in love and were married at the Pyle Street Methodist Church on 4 January 1943. They were to have a son Anthony in the following year.

At some point for which no explanation has been located, Olive lost all sight in one eye and retained only partial sight in the other. Her health slowly deteriorated over the next ten years.

On 11 December 1958, at home 59 Caesars Road, she collapsed and was whisked to the County Hospital, Ryde, where she was pronounced dead within five minutes of arrival. 

Her funeral at the Methodist Church five days later was attended by a substantial number of persons and organisations including the current members of Newport Fire Station and several veterans of the wartime civil defence services. 


Rest in peace Leading Firewoman Gosden.