Jean Argles 1925-2023

It is with sadness that we report the death of Jean Argles, Great-Niece of Miss Whalley, after whom the woodland area in Miss Whalley’s Field is named.

Before taking up work as Lancaster University’s first careers officer in 1967 Jean had 17 jobs in seven countries! At 18 she was working breaking codes and ciphers during the war, with postings supporting the resistance, based in the UK, Italy and Egypt. After 1945 she found placements for refugees from German concentration camps, then held positions with UNESCO, the Malawian government and as a medical social worker.

Jean was a philanthropic contributor to public life in Lancaster in retirement, supporting the University’s concert programme, Christ Church, Ridge and Central Schools, and always participating in the Scarecrow Festival at Wray, where she lived. In 2017 and 2020 she published the war diaries of her father, Colonel Cary Owtram, and co-authored her own memoir, Codebreaking Sisters: Our Secret War.

Jean joined the 2018 Remembrance event at Miss Whalley’s Field, and the following year the wood was planted to which she gave her name. Her remarkable record of public service will be remembered in the legacy it leaves.

(Editor: Many thanks to Matt and Sue Cole for this Appreciation of Jean Argles, who was clearly a most remarkable woman. They have known her for many years and have recently moved to Lancaster themselves).

A full page Obituary of Jean Argles, with more detail of her wartime work in particular, appeared in The Times on Tuesday 18th April – worth reading if you can find a copy. (Note: access to The Times on-line normally requires a subscription.)