Edith Whitley (nee Bouchier) was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1889. She married Brooke Whitley, son of an egg importer, at Bradford Registry Office in 1908, and in December 1908, at the age of 19, their first child, a girl named Edith Dorothy ( known as Dorothy), was born.

When the baby was one year old the family moved to Toronto, Canada, where they remained for three more years. During that time, they had twin boys in December 1910. Sadly one was stillborn, but the other, Jack, was a robust 13lb baby. Unfortunately at the age of 7 months Jack died due to infant gastroenteritis.

Brookes job in Canada fell through, and when they found Edith was pregnant, he decided to send her and baby Dorothy back to England in 1912, leaving Brooke to work in the Canadian harvest for a further year to earn enough for a ships passage. They had their fourth child in Bradford in January 1913. Brooke returned to England about 1914, but he was unable to join the Army due to bad varicose veins; after a period of family stability from 1915 to 1917, the Army decided they would take anyone who could walk, and he then joined up and went to France.

In March 1918 he was run over by a Gun Carriage during a battle in France when he sustained serious injuries to his leg, which had to be amputated. With only very basic medical facilities available, he succumbed to shock and died from shock and pneumonia.

Edith was left a widow, like so many at that time. Now aged 28 years of age, with two small children to care for, she needed an income and having some musical talent, she won a scholarship with the famous cellist, Karl Fuchs. She progressed in her musical endeavors and mastered several other instruments, including Saxophone and Harp, over the next few years.

Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, she heard of Ivy Benson and her all girls band, and felt quite competent to apply for an audition. She was accepted, joining them in 1942. At this time Edith was 52 years old, and very much the oldest member of the band; Ivy was at this time around 30 - it seems very unusual to recount this, as the history of the band usually tells of how young some of the girls were when they joined.

We understand she also played in Don Rico's band in her earlier career. Edith, who played under her maiden name of Bouchier, played saxophone and cello with the Ivy Benson Band from 1942 to 1946 and retired in 1947. She went to spend her retirement in Blackpool, but returned to Bradford where she passed away in May 1965 at the age of 75.

Edith Whitley
(nee Bouchier)

played Sax and Cello,
1942 to 1946.