The crucial work undertaken by Valerie Glassborow at Bletchley Park during the Second World War has long been a source of great pride to her granddaughter, the Duchess of Cambridge.
But the Duchess has now revealed that not only was her paternal grandmother a codebreaker during the war, she also served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) with the British Red Cross.
In a personal letter sent to 150 “outstanding” Red Cross staff and volunteers to mark the charity’s 150th anniversary, the 38-year-old paid tribute to her own family ties with the organisation, revealing that both her grandmother and her great-grandmother, Olive Middleton, served as Red Cross nurses.
The Duchess wrote: "Like you and many others, they are both part of the rich history of the British Red Cross, which is helping to ensure many people get the support they need during a crisis.
"In recent months, I have been deeply moved by the work you and your colleagues have continued to do throughout the coronavirus pandemic. You have all been doing an inspiring job supporting vulnerable people."
It is 150 years to the day on Tuesday since a resolution was passed at a public meeting in London to form an organisation "for aiding sick and wounded soldiers in time of war".
Established a few weeks after the outbreak of war between France and Prussia, the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War would later be renamed the British Red Cross.
The Queen, who has served as the charity's patron for almost 65 years, led three generations of the Royal Family in marking its milestone anniversary.
She said: "Whether those involved in the society are assisting people to return home from hospital safely, offering care and support in the aftermath of a disaster, volunteering in a shop, administering first aid or some of the many other activities the British Red Cross encompasses, their contribution is recognised, valued and greatly appreciated."
The Prince of Wales, president of the Red Cross, said that since 1870, the “conspicuous humanity” of its volunteers in times of crisis had offered “inspiration to us all.”
The Prince recorded a video introduction to a new online exhibition - 150 Voices - which showcases 150 objects from the British Red Cross museum and archives collection.
Among the digital exhibits are a letter from Florence Nightingale, a First World War ambulance driver's cap and a food parcel distributed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent during the Syria crisis.
Prince Charles said: “Since 1870, the charity has been providing support to those in crisis no matter who they are or where in the world they might be.
"Through giving relief to those affected by war and conflict, supporting refugees, providing health and social care in peacetime and helping people and communities hit by natural disasters, the British Red Cross has for 150 years shown just how powerful kindness can be.”
He said its work today was as essential as it had ever been, helping those in need in “an ever-changing and unpredictable world."
The 150 recipients of the Duchess’s letter were nominated by local communities for their “tireless” contribution before being chosen by a Red Cross panel. They will receive a commemorative coin, created by the Royal Mint, to mark the anniversary.
The Duchess described how her great-grandmother, Olive Middleton, had volunteered as a Red Cross nurse during the First World War while her grandmother Valerie Glassborow performed the same role during the Second World War.
The former is thought to have lied about her marital status in order to volunteer.
Mrs Middleton, nee Lupton, had wed Richard Middleton in 1914 but civilian women wanting to play their part in the VAD had to be unmarried or widowed.
In 1915, she ticked “Miss” as her marital status and duly became a nurse, working at Gledhow Hall in Leeds, home to her second cousin Baroness Airedale and used as a VAD hospital, until 1917 before spending three months in 1918 at Roundhay Auxiliary Military Hospital.
Her third child, Peter, born in 1920, married Valerie Glassborow in 1946. The couple had four sons, the eldest of whom, Michael, is the Duchess’s father.
It is not known when or where Miss Glassborow worked as a nurse and Red Cross records from the Second World War are currently only accessible by relatives.
At Bletchley, she worked in the famous Hut 16 where the German Enigma code was cracked, alongside her twin sister Mary.
Miss Glassborow was on duty when a message was intercepted saying that Japan had surrendered - one of only a handful of people – along with the King and the Prime Minister – to learn that the war was over.
She died in 2006, aged 82, having spoken little about her wartime experiences, despite her young granddaughter’s questions.