But she was struck down with Covid at her care home on May 17 and placed on end-of-life care. Against all odds she has now made a full recovery ahead of her 100th birthday on November 22. Daughter Michele Andrew, 57, said: “She wasn’t speaking, eating or drinking and I went in to bid a final farewell. “But my mother survived an assassination attempt in post-war Germany by her chauffeur, a plane crash in the desert and breast cancer. She wasn’t going to let coronavirus defeat her.”
Joy, who is living with dementia, has lived an extraordinary life. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as a sergeant during the war, where she served in the Operations’ Room at Bomber Command.
Coming from a Jewish-German background she was recruited by the British Army of the Rhine, an occupation force in Germany, and posted to Dusseldorf. It was there that her chauffeur crashed their car to try to kill her.
Michele said: “She still bears a scar on her face from the attempt. The driver was arrested and turned out to be a Nazi.”
After the war, Joy joined the British Overseas Airways Corporation to become one of the world’s first air hostesses.
But once again her survival instincts were put to the test when a pilot ran out of fuel and a plane she was on had to crashland in Libya, north Africa. One passenger died but the crew survived and were stranded in the desert until they were rescued by an Arab tribe.
In the 1950s Joy wed David Andrew, a Squadron Leader in the RAF, and in 1963 they adopted Michele.
Joy overcame breast cancer in the 1970s and now lives at Minster Grange,York.
Michele said: “Dementia prevents her from recognising her achievement. But her family join me in celebrating her recovery.”