Linda Paddon was born the day Great Britain declared war on Germany and turns 104 today. Picture: Michelle Smith
Linda Paddon was born the day Great Britain declared war on Germany and turns 104 today. Picture: Michelle Smith

How my dad dodged Titanic death

BEHIND Linda Paddon's remarkable 104-year-old facade is a childhood full of remarkable stories with a lucky miss from a torpedoed ship and WWI bombing raids on London.

She's lucky she was even born given her father William Clarke was scheduled to sail on the Titanic in April 1912 as an engineer. Fortunately, because he was an international soccer goalie, he stayed behind to play for Ireland against England.

Linda Clarke was born in Surat on August 4, 1914, the day Great Britain declared war on Germany.

Her father was sent to France with the armed forces in 1916 and her mother Eva took her to England to be close to family.

"I was very sick with gastroenteritis so our departure was delayed," Mrs Paddon said.

"The ship we were originally booked on was torpedoed and sank with all lives lost. When I recovered we sailed to England on the Iconic."

The family stayed in London briefly and Mrs Paddon vaguely remembers the sound of air-raid sirens and having to go underground.



Linda Paddon was passionate about making porcelain dolls and has made hundreds over the years.
Linda Paddon was passionate about making porcelain dolls and has made hundreds over the years.



They spent a couple years in a small village near Bath in Somerset.

"My father stayed on in France for the clean up. We were one of the last army families to leave after the war (late in 1920)," Mrs Paddon said.

"It took six weeks to come out on the boat."

The family settled with Linda's grandparents in Shorncliffe and she attended Shorncliffe State School Infants and Sandgate State School.

She lived for a time in Buranda and attended Buranda School and then Commercial State High School in George St (now part of QUT).

Most weekends and school holidays were spent with her grandparents in Shorncliffe, where she played tennis, went to the many cinemas operating at the time, and swam in the Sandgate baths at the end of Third Ave.

The family moved back to Sandgate and, when Linda was 17, she attended her first yacht club dance at Sandgate Town Hall, where Albert (Alby) Paddon asked her to dance.

There were engaged on November 11, 1933 (Armistice Day) and married at St Margaret's Anglican Church, Sandgate on March 3, 1934.

The couple moved to Tewantin and Boonah before returning to Sandgate where Alby took over Ibis Bakery in Deagon from 1937-1960s; his wife did the office accounts.

The couple mere members of the yacht club (Alby used to sail on Miss Sandgate and AJA) and Sandgate rugby league club (where Alby played until well into his 50s).



Linda Paddon pictured at indoor bowls, aged 96.
Linda Paddon pictured at indoor bowls, aged 96.



They had four children - Ronald, Joyce, Glennis and Albert (deceased). Alby died in 1996.

Mrs Paddon is a Life Member of Sandgate Bowls Club. She joined in 1976, was treasurer from 1982-85, and was president of the Ladies Club 1990-91.

She took up indoor bowls about 16 years ago and in 2014, aged 99, was a member of the winning team in the Kedron-Wavell Indoor Bowls Club Triples Championship.

She was also a keen gardener, ballroom dancer and had a particular interest in porcelain dolls and painted porcelain figures.

She joined Sandgate and District Historical Society and Museum in 1996 and was made an Honorary Member in 2011.

Mrs Paddon lived in her own highset house in Deagon until she was 101 (the same house she and her husband built in 1950), before moving to PM Village, a low care aged home in Bald Hills. She never drove a car.

Mrs Paddon is still quite active - playing indoor bowls and cards, doing craft, going on bus trips and regular coffee trips to Shorncliffe with daughter Glennis, who lives in Joyner.

When asked the secret to her long life, she said keeping active, eating lots of fish (her husband used to catch them around Sandgate) and not smoking.

Mrs Paddon said her birthday wish was "to be with my family", which will be granted today when she'll celebrate at a big gathering.

When asked if she hoped for more birthdays, she said "as long as I'm not a trouble to anybody".

Longevity is certainly in her family; her mother lived to 103 and nine uncles lived to more than 100.


Information sourced from Pam Verney at Sandgate Historical Society