- Womens Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War -
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Womens Auxiliary Air Force
If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
Womens Auxiliary Air Force
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Baker Edna.
- Barrett Kathleen.
- Barron Grace Shade.
- Bayly Barbara Edna.
- Bell Annie.
- Bell. Beatrice Lillian .
- Bennett Veronica F.. LACW.
- Bignall Hilda.
- Bishop Eileen.
- Botting Dorothy Gwendoline. Asst. Section Officer.
- Bringes Elvira. Sgt.
- Brinjes Elvira . Sgt.Watchkeeper.
- Bryant E;izabeth.
- Bunt Eveline.
- Caddy Dorothy Ethel.
- Charlton Diana Mary.
- Charlton Joan. LACW
- Cobban Violet. LACW.
- Cochrane. B .
- Colville Annie Roy.
- Cooper Jessie.
- Corbett Jane.
- Craddock Vera.
- Crawford Lena. Cpl.
- Darby Vera Muriel.
- Dunwoody Anne.
- Earle Kathleen.
- Erlanger Elisabeth Nixon-Booker.
- Farrow Dorothy.
- Fitzpatrick Barbara. AC2W
- Francoeur Eugenie Frankie.
- Goodfellow Elenar. Cpl.
- Graham Mabel.
- Harman Olive Nancy. LACW
- Harris Ellen. Sgt.
- Hazel Nora. ACW 2
- Henderson Alice M.. LAC (d.3rd July 1944)
- Hennessey Phyllis Ethel.
- Hill Mary Anne.
- Hodgson Joyce. Dvr.
- Hodgson Nancy. Dvr.
- Ingram Beryl.
- Irving Betty.
- Jackson Margaret.
- Jenson Martha.
- Johnson Altie Winifred. ACW2
- Joslin. Eileen Murial . Corporal
- Kinsey Dorreen.
- Laws Hilda.
- Lee Nancy.
- Leishman Chris .
- Leonard Pat.
- Lindsell Kathleen Marion. LACW
- Marshall Vera.
- McLoram Celia Marie. AC2
- Medhurst Doreen Mary.
- Miles June.
- Misset Ann.
- Mosher Constance.
- Needham Mary Elizabeth. LACW
- Parlour Joan.
- Paterson Mary .
- Perham Ivy Emily. Aircraftwoman 1st Class (d.25th Aug 1942)
- Phillips Rhoda Ellen. Cpl.
- Posliff Mabel .
- Rayner Evalina.
- Relton Ida.
- Rogers Eleanor.
- Ronan Kitty.
- Ross Lily.
- Shepherd. Ivy . LACW
- Shimmons Nora .
- Southgate Terrie.
- Spenceley Sally. LACW.
- Stansfield Betty.
- Stephenson Henrietta.
- Stewart. P .
- Storrar Jane.
- Tregunna Mona Kathleen. Cpl.
- Wallace Kay .
- Wayling Peggy .
- Whitehouse. Catherine .
- Willard. V .
- Williamson Gladis Sarah.
- Wilson Joyce.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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LACW Mary Elizabeth NeedhamI would like to hear from anyone who remembers my parents or may have photographs of them or any of the ships company of HMS Formidable.Patricia M Wright
Sgt. Elvira Bringes RAF Middleton St GeorgeI am writing this note on behalf of my mother who is trying to contact Elvira Bringes - last known address - #1, Glaston Court, St. Mary's Road, London, England.
Elvira was a Sergant in the RAF during the same period, also at Middleton St. George 1943-45 and served with my father. My mother and Dad travelled to England numerous times after the war and always tried to see Elvira when they were there. Dad passed away in April of 1997. Since that time, my mother has kept in contact with Elvira via Christmas cards, however, the last card was neither delivered or returned. Can you help us find Elvira? Thank you. On behalf of Rosalie Gant, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaJim Gant
Aircraftwoman 1st Class Ivy Emily Perham RAF Stradishall (d.25th Aug 1942)My Aunt was killed at RAF Stradishall on 25 August 1942. I would very much like to get in touch with anybody who knew her or anybody who has information related to her death, believed to have been crushed by an ambulance although this is not that clear.Martin Cole
Pat "Paddy" LeonardPaddy Leonard, AC2, WAAF, as everyone knew her at RAF Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain, was a member of the "Glamour Watch." A plotter working in the Ops Building as part of a skeleton crew, she had volunteered for the work duty the day that a 500-lb bomb came through the roof, bounced off a safe and blew up in the back room where it was redirected. Somewhat protected by the heavy plotting table under which she dove, she was not injured by the flying glass, metal and wood shards that resulted from the explosion. With the crackling of a fire heard behind them, the staff in the Ops Building quickly exited the room through the blown out windows. Because of the events of that day, two non-commissioned officers in the building later received the Military Medal. As tradition has it it was most likely also presented to them on behalf of the crew on watch that day.
Paddy Leonard spent a year at RAF Biggin Hill through the period that made the station famous. Part of that time was spent in the old vacated butcher's shop in the Pantiles, which was a temporary new home to the Ops Room plotters until other more permanent facilities could be arranged. Picked up by lorry, the WAAF personel were transported daily to and from the shop which they entered from the rear to avoid any attention to their presence there.
Paddy Leonard, or Pat Carswell, as eveyone came to know her after her marriage, lived on the Island of Montreal from 1945 to 1974 when her husband took early retirement from his corporate executive job and they moved to the Rideau Lakes area about 25 miles north of Kingston, Ontario. In more than 30 years of retirement she and her husband enjoyed living by the lake, numerous trips, camping, international travel, visiting Scotland and England and touring Europe with their daughter and son-in-law who had settled in the Netherlands where he grew up.
Born in London on February 23rd, 1920 within the sound of Beau Bells, she was the granddaughter of a Irish blood but English-born London Dock Worker who she never knew and a Swedish-Finnish carpenter who learned his trade at sea. They both married English girls in London. As a switch from her ancestral background she was the daughter of a James Leonard who rose to become a member of the London Stock Exchange. She came from a very unusual background. But like her father who had served in WWI she felt it was her duty to serve in WWII. She believed that had her father had any sons, they would have done the same as did a number of her second cousins who were pilots in the RAF. She lived a happy life dying peacefully at the age of 85 on September 12th, 2005 in her home by the lake less than a month after returning from an Alaskan Cruise. She live life to the fullest and enjoyed every minute of it. May she rest in peace.Bob Carswell
Joan ParlourMy wife, Joan Parlour was stationed at Croft from 1942 until demob in 1945 as a MT Driver. Her home was in Darlington and being with the Canadians who were more relaxed, she was fortunate to be able to live out most of that time. I remember her mentioning friends, Jane Storrar, Ann Misset, Jane Corbett, Moira and others.
Joan died in 2006 after we had shared 63 years wed.Ken Stokes
Hilda LawsBoth my mother Hilda Dopson, née Laws, and father Trevor Dopson served at RAF Linton on Ouse and were married in uniform in 1941 (I have the photo). We have just found a electro-silver plated drinking tankard that was given to my father who worked in the officers mess. The person the tankard belonged to told him that if he didn't come back he had to have it. The initials on the tankard are G A, we were wondering does anyone know who G A was?Keith Dopson
Mabel PosliffI am trying to find any information about where my nana was stationed during her service. I've not much to go on at the moment. Her name was Mabel Posliff and she joined (I think) when she was 16 years of age, 1933. In 1943 she was pregnant with my mum and left the WRAF to live in Bentley near Doncaster with her best friend. All I know is that my mum's father was an RAF serviceman from the south. I do know that my grandfather survived the war as he came looking for my nana sometime after my mum was born in 1944. In 1948 my nana married a man who I always thought was my granddad (who I absolutely adored) until now, and she became Mabel Woodall. Can anyone help me further or at least give me some guidance on how to trace where she was stationed?Sharon Hughes
LACW Kathleen Marion Lindsell Signals 60 GroupLeading Aircraft Women Kathleen Lindsell enlisted on the 27th of February 1941 and went to RAF Innsworth, Gloucester as an untrained Telephone Operator (ACW 2). She then moved to RAF 60 Group headquarters, Leighton Buzzard on 14 March 1941 and billeted at Woodlands Hostel, Soulbury Road,Linslade, Bucks.
She became a telephonist on the 29th of January 1941 and transferred to No. 2 Radio School at RAF Yatesbury, Cherhill, Wiltshire on 16 April 1942. From there she was posted to RAF Dunkirk, Chain Home Radar Station, Courtenay Road, Kent on 28 May 1942 AMES (Air Ministry Experimental Station) Type 1 Code Name” Chain Home”. Kathleen moved to to RAF Truleigh Hill, Chain Home Low Radar Station (AMES Type 2) near Fulking, West Sussex on the 3rd of April 1943. She took a Local Trade Test Board Course on 1st of October 1943 becoming a LACW and a Radio Operator from 31st of December 1943. A Good Conduct Badge awarded on 27th of February 1944.
She was posted to RAF Steginot, Chain Home Radar Station, (AMES Type1) Manor Hill, Lincolnshire on 22 August 1944 and to RAF Worth Matravers, Chain Home Radar Station, near Swanage, Dorset on 27th September 1945 being billeted at “Penlu”, Taunton Road, Swanage (now Sea Court Flats). Kathleen transferred to No 105, Personnel Despatch Centre, Wythall on 22nd of November 1945 and was released from Service on 17th of January 1946.
All Wings served in were part of No. 60 (Signals) Group, which was formed on 23rd of March 1940 in Fighter Command to control RAF Radar Stations and other Radio Units.David Lindsell
LACW Joan Charlton Clerk Accounts. 938 SquadronMy gran, Joan Hobson (nee Charlton) 468897, enlisted in November 1942. She went to RAF Innsworth initially, then on to no.3 WAAF depot, Morecambe, for the remainder of her training. (from 1st December 1942),
She joined 16 BC which I think is Balloon Command/Centre, on 16/02/1943. She then went on to 929 Squadron (Balloon squadron) on 13/04/43. Finally joining 938 squadron in December 1943. The only story we have is one event whereby during an air attack on the base or airfield where she was stationed, she dived for cover behind sandbags, hurting her ankle in the process. Luckily, she escaped the bombs.
Her trade was a clerk in accounts. She married in August 1944, and was discharged on compassionate grounds in November 1944. If anyone remembers her it would be fantastic to hear from you. Sadly, Joan passed away in August 1980.
She rarely talked about her service years and it is only through recent research and with the assistance of RAF Cranwell, that we have discovered the above. Please get in touch if you remember her.Sue Henderson
AC2W Barbara Fitzpatrick Balloon OperatorI joined the WAAF's in 1942 at age sixteen. I told them I was eighteen. I joined at the Lincoln Office. I was sent to Liverpool for training then off to the South Docks Swansea Balloon Barrage. Although I don't remember the names I would like to know if any of my team are still around.Barbara Melless
Asst. Section Officer. Dorothy Gwendoline BottingAssistant Section Officer Dorothy Gwendoline Botting was based in St Andrews from 1939 to 1942, does anyone remember her? Any information or pictures would be greatly appreciated.Alastair Burke
Barbara Edna BaylyMy father and mother both served in the Second World War. Both enlisting in England. My mother, Barbara Edna Bayly was a telephonist in the WAAF but I don't know much about her postings or anything other than she was stationed at different airfields around Kent.
My father Sydney Beeching, enlisted in the Navy and after spending some time at Royal Arthur served at Pembroke and on the Kittywake from 20 December 1940 to 2 July 1943 according to his papers. Then he served on Pembroke 4 Steadfast from 3 July 1943 to January 1946. He also went to America on the Queen Mary when she went over for refitting as a troop carrier.Heather Osborne
Eveline BuntMy Mum, Eveline Bunt joined the Women's Royal Air Force in September 1941 not long after she had married my Dad, Claude, who was serving in the RAF, they had met at RAF Netheravon where she had been working in the NAAFI. After training she was posted to RAF Andover as account's clerk, whilst at Andover the station was badly bombed and she was posted to Cranwell to train as a teleprinter operator eventually posted to RAF Madley, Hereford.Philip Bunt
Sgt. Ellen HarrisMy mother was stationed at RAF Usworth during the Second World War. Her name then was Ellen Harris and she was 25 years old in 1939. She was a sergeant in the Catering Corps and she often talked about her friends and the good times she had on the base.
This is a photo of her at Usworth with her friends in the Catering Corps. She is pictured sitting bottom right. Does anyone know any other names in this picture?
LACW. Sally SpenceleyMy Mother Sally Spenceley served in the WAAF as a cook, based at the Grand Hotel in Brighton cooking For New Zealand aircrews and other countries aircrews. She the worked at a rehab center in Torquay, Devon.
Sally with two Australian Fighter pilot POWs who had been repatriated from Germany, she walked with the pilots to get them exercise from injuries for a faster recuperation.
She is now 86 but still has vivid recollection of those times.Dave
Vera CraddockMy late aunt Vera Craddock nee Davidson was in the Airforce, stationed at Wickenby and was on duty on the night her husband Flt Sgt Ronald Gerrard Craddock failed to return from mission over Karlsruhe. He was a W-Op/Air Gunner, on Lancaster ED424, lost April 24th, 1944. Their daughter, my cousin Joy was born in November 1944. I am investigating my family history and would be grateful for any info.Keith Oliver
Cpl. Elenar Goodfellow MIDMy late grandmother, Corporal Elenar Goodfellow was stationed at RAF Thornaby from 1939 until 1945, we believe. I have a certificate which states she was Mentioned in Dipatches for distinguished service, whilst serving in the Women's Auxillary Air Force. The certificate is dated 14th June 1945. I have tried to locate this in the London Gazette archives, but can find no evidence.
I remember her talking of making parachutes, working in the fabric workshop. She also mentioned earning extra rations for packing some chemicals which turned her skin and urine yellow!
I would be grateful for any information or ideas where I can search further.Nicola Clifford
Dvr. Joyce HodgsonDoes anybody remember two York sisters who were in the WAAF based at Linton on Ouse in the 1940's? Their names were Joyce and Nancy Hodgson. They were both drivers.Ian Hart
Dvr. Nancy HodgsonNancy Hodgson & her sister Joyce were both drivers in the WAAF based at Linton-on-Ouse in the 1940s. Does anyone remember them?Ian Hart
Joyce WilsonMy Mother was in the WAAF served at Leeming, she met my Dad there. They married after Dad was repatriated to the UK when the POW’s were liberated. Her name is Joyce Wilson later Findlater. I think she was attached to 427 Squadron.
My Dad, Harold A. Findlater, flew in Halifax aircraft out of Leeming in 1943 with RCAF 429 Squadron, he was shot down over Dusseldorft on 22 April 1943 in aircraft LV963 and became a POW in Stalag Luft 111. We brought my Dad & Stepmum up to Leeming in, I think, 1990 and I remember the staff showing Dad some details about himself in a book, but I don’t remember any of the detail. How can I find out more about this please? My brother and I also came to Leeming to scatter some of his ashes, at the end of the runway, when he passed away in 2002. The staff at Leeming when very kind to us on both occasions.
Any information that anyone can give me would be much appreciated.Sheryl Crossland
LACW Olive Nancy HarmanMy mother, Olive Harman was a Driver and was based at Upper Heyford and Cottesmore. She always described her time in the WAAF as the best time of her life. I would love to hear from anyone who knew her.Lesley Scott
ACW2 Altie Winifred "Johnny" JohnsonMy mother, Altie Johnson was a WAAF at RAF Tempsford. She was employed as a driver taking crew out to their aircraft. She told me nothing of what went on there, although I am now discovering all about SOE operations there and have visited Gibraltar Farm Barn at Tempsford and stood on the runway there. She did tell me once that on a windy night, she saw the canvas fly up at the back of a truck and she saw persons in unusual uniforms and costume. Towards the end of 1945, she was a WAAF shorthand typist, as I believe she was by then pregnant and therefore not driving. My mother died on 11/11/1995 at 11 am which I thought was rather fitting.Jean Carlyle-Lyon
Grace Shade BarronMy mother Grace Barron, served at Waterbeach 99th Squadron 1942 until 1943. She was an "ACHGD" (Aircrafthand, General Duties). She is looking for any photos of the WAAF Service Women at that time. She would like to find a photo of herself.John Murphy
LACW. Veronica F. "Candy" Bennett 24 OTUI arrived at 24 OTU, Honeybourne soon after D Day in June 1944. I soon found myself working on the engines of my favourite aircraft, Vickers Wellington Mk.II. along with two or three other WAAF Mechanics. We were not very well liked by the RAF mechs, I believe they were a bit jealous of the attention we received from the aircrew (the Brylcream boys). Once we and the other technical ground crew had completed their servicing of the engine and re-installed it in the aircraft, it was necessary to do a test run, then a test flight. On several occasions I went along on these test flights. As I was quite small and still very young, I took a lot of teasing from both the ground and aircrew, and many times they would pull some crazy stunt to try and scare me, but I actually enjoyed it and felt no fear. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.
I was at Honeybourne for the better part of a year and being the only Canadian female among so many Canadians I was invited to the shows and special events awarded the RCAF personnel. A few years ago I was living in Florida and attended a luncheon put on by The Evaders (airmen shot down who escaped capture), and was surprised to meet three former aircrew who had been stationed at Honeybourne. Also, on 1st April, 2014 I attended the 90th Anniversary of the RCAF at Government House here in Victoria with my husband, Wing Commander Ronald Butcher DFC.,and met up with a gentleman who had been stationed at Wellesbourne, the satellite to Honeybourne. It really is a small world after all.
IHave always wanted to find another WAAF aircraft engine mechanic, and if there is one reading this, I would love to hear from you.
I now live in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia,and enjoy a monthly re-union lunch with a few ex-WAAF. We each have a story to tell and mine is in my book "From WAIF to WAAF to WIFE" which I wrote in 2002.Veronica Bennett
Cpl. Rhoda Ellen PhillipsCorporal Rhoda Phillips served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force at St Eval in Devon.
Edna BakerMy Aunt was a WAAF and was stationed at Linton and Holme during the war, I have several photos of bombers and crews, with no names, also her autograph book from that period, and also a control tower log book from one of the airfields. One name in her book I know is Cheshire, and two marvellous pen drawings by a G.D Clay. of the Shambles in York and Lydd Romany marsh dated Linton 1942. My Aunt died in 1951 but I do have pictures of her Her name was Edna Baker and she came from near Skegness Lincs.Pat Baker
Martha Jenson 408 SquadronMartha Jensen was stationed in Linton-on-Ouse as a wireless operator, around 1942, She was from Western Canada I believe, does anyone have any info on her?Jamie Hachey
Dorreen KinseyI joined up at the end of 1940 and in 1941 became W.A.A.F Doreen Kinsey plus service number, hoping to see new and interesting places. I was sent to Bridgenorth where I was kitted out medicated and then moved on to Morcambe to begin basic training plus lots of jabs, all very exciting. After a month on the prom learning the correct way to Salute, March, including turning the "right" way , and several necessary things I was posted to Usworth, at a few were miles out side of Sunder land, in other words back home. Not for me the fun and games - I was billeted at home and provided with a bike. This meant I had to travel 12 miles each morning to be on camp by the 8 o'clock, roll call! I it was attached to Technical Services in a hut on the edge of the aerodrome which was home to the Anson training planes for Canadians etc. to have training in a of course, but not to flirt with I can assure you! Having undergone my own training, office work plus Gas training - I was at last a W.A.A.F.
I spent 10 months at Usworth and then off I went onto a radio course at Stafford, two weeks there then off to Fighter Command at Kenley in Surrey - things I thought were looking up! I was attached to Admin and spent almost two years there. May I say happy times between the lulls of air raids etc. I met my twin Dorothy, same birthday and year-and we became very close. We celebrated our 21st birthday in London at the Corner House and ducking for cover later on our way back to Kenley.
I took my exams at Biggin Hill and rode behind a dispatch rider delivering batches of I D cards - which of course was just not done - but it was!
Towards D. Day great things were happening and I was posted further down the country to Durrington, near Worthing. We were billeted in three houses which had been built at the beginning of the war at the edge of its very large field with quite a few hens, source unknown, who delicately laid away in the long grass and gave us girls many a nice extra tea. Days off work were spent in Brighton sipping Pink Gin if we were lucky and we always had the boys to take care of us and see us across the field back to billets. D. Day came and we of course saw the build up down the country lanes which were full of Tanks, Lorries and "men" and I saw the planes and gliders by the hundreds, all very young men up there and us down on the ground saying our prayers.
Then demob and up to Greenlaw in Scotland to become a civvy again. I married my husband on St Valentine's Day 1945 he had just returned from his war in South Africa - very different war to mine but he was an R.A.F. Engineer servicing battered aircraft so that they could be returned to service in the Middle East as soon as possible.
I am a member of the W.A.A.F. Association and I am proud of myself and my friends and my heart lifts and a tear is shed on Remembrance Day. How I would love to swing my kilt with the rest of them in Whitehall, but I'll be there in my heart.Doreen Arrowsmith
LACW Ivy Shepherd.Ivy Shepherd served as a cook at RAF Middleton St George.
E;izabeth BryantAt school FHCS for girls,I was Betty Bryant of Forest Hill,London. At 15 I was evacuated to Mersham,Kent and then on to Gorseinon,Nr Swansea. Joined Waaf 1942, 3mths driving course at Morecambe. Mostly stationed at Middleton St George,Bomber Command. Many memories, driving aircrew out to planes for night raids.Welcoming Canadian Squadron who brought with them FOOD!! They had their own cook in sick quarters and had my first taste of anything resembling food since I joined up.Sleeping in Nissen huts and being so cold at night and then in the am walking outside to the ablutions and cold water to wash. One night 2 aircraft collided overhead, all the Morris ambulances were out, I was ordered to drive the one survivor in an Albion ambulance, which to me was enormous, the patient was severley burned and completely covered in bandages. I was terrified of jolting him as it was double-declutch all the way and I have always wondered if he survived. I was 19 at the time. At 191/2 I became engaged to my sweetheart from home, he was a Spitfire pilot, and he was the love of my life. Later I was posted to Ford nr Littlehampton. June 9th we were married and I became Betty Drapper. On Aug 9th I was called in to the adjutants office and was told that Roy had been killed. A weeks compassionate leave and that was that. Counselling had not been invented!Betty Blower
Diana Mary CharltonI enrolled as No 884859 ACW2 WAAF (47 Wilts) Women’s Auxiliary Air Force on 19 September 1939 at RAF Old Sarum Called up and posted to RAF Rollestone — the RAF Anti-Gas School on October 27 1939.
Having enlisted on September 19 1939 at RAF Old Sarum, I was called back there, with about thirty others, on October 27 1939. Here we were given our service numbers, never forgotten, and issued with gas-masks, gas capes and identity discs — one red, one green, proof against fire and water, before piling into an open-backed three-ton lorry, our baggage thrown in after us, and driven out into the wilds of Salisbury Plain. I think we had been told we would be stationed at RAF Rollestone — the RAF Anti-Gas School — half-way between the Army artillery camp at Larkhill and the village of Shrewton.
Here we quite literally fell into the arms of the waiting airmen as they helped us down from the lorry, and we were officially welcomed by our WAAF Officer, Assistant Section Officer Margaret Wade, in her smartly tailored uniform. She was usually referred to at ‘Maggie’ of formally at Ma’am. We were to be housed in a row of wooden huts, previously Airmen’s Married Quarters, about six of us to a hut. You entered directly into a scullery, which had a large white china sink and a cold tap, also a copper which had to be filled with a hand basin from the tap — and a fire, literally our only means of hot water. We had a coal allowance in a large cast-iron bin, and kindling had to be foraged for. The bathroom had a cold water tap in the bath, and a lavatory led off. There was a large living-room with a coal fired range, our only source of heating. The room took three beds, and in addition there was a small single-bedded room and a twin-bedded room. The bed were cast-iron, springless ‘Macdonalds’, left over from World War I. The lower half left telescoped up under the top half. If they still exist, I hope they are in a RAF museum at ‘ancient relics’. We were instructed in the art of making them up from the three biscuits — hard mattresses about two feet square, with four brown blankets of doubtful cleanliness, two coarse narrow sheets and a sausage-shaped straw-filled pillow. Spread a blanket crosswise over the bed — place the mattresses down the centre — then the sheets and finally add the other blankets, folding them over to make a cocoon which was surprisingly snug and comfortable once you get the hang of it. All this to be made up by bedtime, dismantled and stacked before breakfast. Directed down to the cookhouse for tea, we were given tinned kidneys in gravy (never seen before or since), coarse bread with marge and mugs of sweet, Carnation milked tea, from a bucket. Following this we were assembled in a lecture room for a pep talk from Maggie and given some of our duties. After an uncomfortable night and breakfast, we were assembled on the parade ground still in our civilian clothes, high-heels and stockings, tight short skirts and hats. It was a music hall act, an absolute shambles. Our poor station Drill Sergeant! After this performance, down to the stores where we were issued with some items of equipment. Knife, fork and spoon (irons), button stick (brass), shoe-brushes (I still have mine — all stamped with our number) and a hussie (housewife — mending kit). Also, surprisingly, two officer material shirts and collars (detached, needing studs), two pairs of grey lisle thread stockings, one pair of black lace-up shoes, one black necktie, two pairs of navy-blue directoire knickers (P.K.s — passion killers) two Vedonis lock-knit vests reaching to the knees, an air-force blue cardigan, navy cotton overalls, navy blue slacks, air-force blue raincoat and a navy beret and RAF cap bridge — brass — to be highly burnished. A proud possession. We were a very mixed bunch from the Hon. Lady Lettice Ashley Cooper (immediately promoted to Corporal in charge of the Orderly Room) to a little scullery maid from the Isle of Wight who had to be forced to have a bath and supervised. However, we all settled down remarkably well. It was certainly a culture shock from our mostly comfortable houses to something approaching St Trinian’s. We had cooks, clerks, M.T. drivers and three telephonists — Ruby Elliot, a very pretty girl and a shop assistant from Weymouth, Tommy Ferguson a colourful girl and a laundress from Portsmouth (an expert on starching collars and ironing) and me who had been rather idling about at home, doing odd jobs, while waiting for the inevitable. We had a brief training session with our local GPO exchanges and could always ask politely ‘Number, please’ but whether we could ever get through was another matter.
It was a very hard winter and bitterly cold up on our windswept plain, with deep snow over Christmas and in the New Year. We had torrential rain which froze as it fell on the cold ground, encasing everything with ice. The scenery was spectacular, but tree branches came down, unable to carry the weight. So also did our telephone wires, so we were jobless. This also coincided with a bout of German measles so we were deployed to other tasks, self to the cookhouse tin room, washing up large greasy cooking tins, including a cast-iron porridge pot which took two to lift. I had only my own stove to light and stoke for hot water, shovelling coke from under the snow to fuel it. There were no detergents in those days (they had not been invented) so a large bar of hard yellow soap from which you shaved off flakes for lather with a potato peeler was the only addition to the water. I found it hard going and was thankful when our ‘phone lines were restored and we were back to our cosy sandbagged exchange hut, but still with our own stove to stoke. As the weather improved, we became more active outdoors. The old balloon hanger had been used for badminton, netball and volley ball and the airmen had a good soccer field but in that more religious age it was not encouraged to play on a Sunday, so those off duty would often, as a group, walk over the Plain, picking up mangol wurzels en route and kick them along towards Stonehenge which in those days was open to everyone with many of the top stones on the ground and in some disarray. Here we would have an impromptu game of soccer, using the stones as goal posts. Along the road, in the hedge, were cast-iron commemorative plaques to the many young Army pilots who had lost their lives attempting to fly in the lethal early aircraft. They are no longer there so I hope they are safe somewhere in a museum. This pleasant state of affairs ended abruptly with the invasion of the Low Countries and the evacuation of Dunkirk in May and June. I will never forget the endless busloads of exhausted and battered soldiers brought back on to the Plain from the Channel Ports. They just slept out on the grass in the glorious weather. One of them gave me a sixpence with a hole in it as a good luck token. It had got him through. I still have it. And so ended the Phoney War — from then on the War began in earnest.
The saddest and most stressful time of my W.A.A.F. service was the winter of 1943-1944 when stationed at R.A.F. Thornaby, on the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees. It was a Coastal Command station training Air-Sea Rescue crews, with three squadrons of Warwick aircraft, Nos 279, 280 and 281, continually patrolling the North Sea, in the vain hope of spotting any debris and possible survivors of ‘downed’ aircraft, and to alert the nearest Marine Craft unit which would send a fast launch out to retrieve what it could. There were few survivors. Hyperthermia and sea-sickness were the killers, even if they had survived the ‘ditching’. R.A.F. stations were allocated designated areas in which they were responsible for ‘collecting’ any ‘fatalities which occurred to service personnel within these boundaries, and then making all the necessary arrangements, up to the funerals. I was the Assistant Adjutant at Thornaby and, apart from my mundane duties of postings, leave passes, ration cards etc., this distressing task fell to my lot. It was a hard winter, with freezing fog added to the hazards for bombers returning from their dangerous missions, often badly shot-up, and many crashed on landing. There was a Canadian Bomber station at nearby Middleton St George which suffered heavy casualties. They often got lost and crashed up in the Dales.
A ‘death’ from whatever reason has to be registered and signed by the Registrar in whose district it occurs. He then issues a Death Certificate, without which no funeral can take place. The Registrars had fixed routines covering their scattered villages, so in the event of our airmen landing and being killed in one of these remote villages a despatch rider had to be sent out with instructions to intercept the Registrar and obtain this essential signed Certificate. These despatch riders were the unsung heroes of the War years. They operated a network service throughout the U.K. — D.R.L.S. (Despatch Rider Letter Service) — and, like the Royal Mail, they always got through. Local undertakers (or village carpenters) would coffin the bodies which were then brought down to our mortuary. I then had to arrange with our local railway (L.N.E.R. in those days) for the coffin/coffins to be taken to Harrogate where there was a R.A.F. cemetery, or be sent back to the family. All coffins were sent by goods trains as it was considered unlucky to send them by passenger train. ‘Goods’ had no priority so were constantly shunted around and the railway clerks were always on the ‘phone telling me of the revised times when to expect ‘my coffins’ to arrive. This meant I was constantly on the ‘phone to my opposite W.A.A.F. in Harrogate who unenviable job it was to receive the coffins, arrange the funerals and welcome any family or friends who could attend.
One particularly sad crash I well remember was a British bomber, returning home, probably damaged and at the limit of human endurance, making a crash landing and bursting into flames a short distance from Thornaby. We could see it, and our Emergency Services rushed over but there were no survivors. The night sky was lit up. Our local undertaker had the difficult task of collecting what he could to put in the coffins, so I do not think the victims were separated in death, being unidentifiable. You could not become sentimental about these young men, so lately full of life, but you grieved for them and their families. I tried to look upon them as temporary postings, ensuring that all was carefully and correctly done for them when they left for their last journey.
One particular ‘personality’ who remained in my care for a while was a Sergeant Sacre — a ‘Colonial’ — washed ashore near our Marine Unit at Season Snook. There is a different procedure in such cases as the actual time, date and place of death cannot be confirmed and it often takes longer to sort out. Meanwhile the Sergeant’s identity discs, still on their grubby lengths of string, were in my safekeeping for quite a while. I have wondered since about his family, probably in Australia, because it is an unusual name.
The War finally ended. I married a R.A.F. Pilot and we had two sons. My husband’s last posting was to R.A.F. Rufforth, near York. We often went over to Harrogate as it was an excellent shopping centre, but I never visited the cemetery.Diana Horner
Cpl. Lena "Titch" CrawfordAt the age of 21 years I was called up to join the WRAF. I had to report to Somerset House in London. I was billeted in RAF Benson in Oxford. I worked in the Laundry and in the canteen. I met Paddy Finnegan (The Legless Pilot) and Vera Lynn “the forces Sweetheart”. She came to RAF Benson to entertain the troops by singing “The white cliffs of Dover”. After she had entertained the troops she came and had tea with me and my colleagues. She also took a photograph of us all. I was a corporal in the RAF and my men used to call me “Titch”. I served between 1940 and 1944.
I was often moved about, when in the RAF, sometimes I was in the laundry doing the airmen’s bundles and sometimes I was in the canteen. I still have a scar on my hand, where I opened hundreds of tins of corned beef! I didn’t mind and during the War you just had to get on with it and do as you were told. I also packed the parachutes. This was obviously a very important job, because if you got it wrong, lives depended on it!Lena Harrison
Henrietta "Ettie" StephensonMy Grandmother, Henrietta Stephenson taught service men how to swim for which she won an award. She also "worked with photographs" and "prayed for the safe return of all pilots". I couldn't really understand her job. That is all she spoke of to her Grandchildren 30 years after the war.
I have since learned from my father that she was a photographic interpreter. When I asked my father where she was stationed he said "All personnel involved were located where there were reconnaissance planes and at one time this was Harwell, Didcot, Berkshire. My father was sent to live with many different families while his Mum served in the WAAF. There was so much secrecy. My father snuck away from those billeting him in the Blackburn area to visit his Mum. It sounds like he got a bit of a scolding and a traumatic experience. He had gone all the way on bike to see her! When he was on his way home towns and villages that had stood as he travelled through on his way to visit his Mum has been very badly bombed! He was only eleven. This would be in 1940. I think the town he referred to was Haslingden.Carol Stephenson Loucks
Lily RossMy mother, Lily Ross served in the WAAfs sometime in the 1940s. I am told she worked with barrage balloons. Are there any records of her? She came from a small village in Cockenzie, East Lothian - I do wish I could find out something about this.Lilian Ramsay
Gladis Sarah WilliamsonMy mother Gladys Williamson met my father, George Crocker who was mid upper & tail end gunner in Lancaster bombers, when they were both stationed at Scampton.George Crocker
LACW. Violet CobbanViolet Cobban is my mother, a native of Longside as were her forebearers. She served at RAF Peterhead from 1941-1945. I believe she was one of the first WAAF's to be recruited when it was opened as her attestation date is 5th of August 1941.Raymond Watson
Kathleen BarrettKathleen Barrett served as an Ambulance Driver with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.Carmen Barrett-Elbro
Terrie SouthgateI was in the RCAF (Women's Division) from 1942 to 1945. I was stationed on an Air Force Station at Jarvis, bombing and gunnery for quite a while. We had the boys from the Commonwealth of Nations training there. I married a New Zealand pilot in 1945 and came to live in New Zealand.Terrie Southgate
Betty Irving Balloon OpsI served with the WAAF in WWII on balloon ops at Honeybourne Camp. Is Eddie Edwards still around? Still think of you.Betty Irving
Kathleen EarleI was a member of the WAAF and trained at Cranwell, No 1 Radio School as a teleprinter operator. I was also at Records Gloucester and later at RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire in the Signals Section. If anyone from Bramcote sees this, please get in touch.Kathleen Hands
Constance MosherI served with the WAAF in England and Germany. I was demobbed in 1947.Constance Pitts Mosher
Margaret Jackson Balloon CommandMy mother, Margaret Jackson was a telephonist in the WAAF, Balloon Command. I know she was at Falmouth on D-Day, which was also her 21st birthday. She served in a number of places. She wore one of `Mrs Roosevelt's dresses' when she and Dad married in September 1944.
I was born in 1947 and remember the aerodrome at Breighton still being operational. Our house adjoined it and I was taken from my bed (being sick with measles) to see, and sit on the wing of, a Spitfire. We witnessed the gradual shutting down of the base until it was left as a wonderful playground for the village children. I didn't know what a tennis court was and thought the big mesh enclosure was where the POWs were kept!
If anyone remembers my mother, please get in touch.Pam Thorley
Hilda BignallI lived through the bombing of Liverpool in 1940, then joined the WAAF and served for four and a half years.Hilda Bignall
Phyllis Ethel HennesseyMy grandma, Phyllis Hennessey served at RAF Hibaldstow in July 1943. I have a photo of her sitting on a Spitfire with two other ladies and four men standing on the ground below them. Does anyone remember her?Megs
Ida Relton Motor Transport SectionMy mother, Ida Relton, served in the Motor Transport Section of the WAAF and used to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. She often amused us with tales of actually sleeping through an attack during the London Blitz.Moira Hewitt
Eileen Bishop RAF HaltonMy grandmother, Eileen Bishop, was stationed at RAF Halton, Buckinghamshire between 1940 and 1945. She may have worked as a catering officer.Andrea
Jessie CooperDoes anyone remember Jessie Cooper, Anne Dunwoody, both WAAFs circa 1942-43, or John Oliver Hartley, Royal Scots Fusiliers in 1940-46? There was also Bob Bill of the RCAF and George Morley, but I don't know which service he was in.Anne
Dorothy Farrow Bomber CommandMy mother, Dorothy Farrow, served as a WAAF radio operator in Bomber Command from 1941 to 1945. She served at Elsham Wolds, Binbrook, Scampton and Bawtry Hall. I believe she trained at Blackpool.Ian Boulby
June Miles RAF WaddingtonJune Miles was a WAAF stationed at RAF Waddington Bomber Command from 1941 to 1945. She also spent some time at RAF Exning, Suffolk.June Miles
Mabel GrahamI am trying to find out more information about Mabel. She was married to my husband's uncle. They were married about 1943/44. She was from Askam and worked at Blackpool selling or making hats. She was in the WAAF and would have been at Crosby about August 1944 (not really sure of that date). She was married to William Arthur Graham who was an Australian in the RAAF. He was killed over the island of Tiree pn 16th August 1944. This was a collision between two aircraft. Tiree is off the coast of Scotland, William was in Squadron 518. Mabel had in front of her name LAC M Graham 2099888. Later on she moved to America. This is not much information but maybe someone might have come across Mabel.Kris
Annie BellMy grandparents, Annie Bell and Charles Clifford Booth. They both served in the RAF in WW2. They were both stationed in Doncaster in 1946, she was a cook and he was a fireman (later a sewing machinist?). I don't know much more than this except she was discharged from the air force due to being pregnant in 1946 and gave birth at the Doncaster Institution. Does anyone recognise these names? I am trying to find more information.Lisa Franklin
Elisabeth Nixon-Booker ErlangerI am looking for stories of my mother as a WAAF to go with the donation of her WAAF uniform to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. I know she worked in radar. She just passed away and my brothers and I were stunned to find her uniform in her closet. Please help if you can.Susan E Talbot
Evalina "Lena" Rayner RAF ConingsbyI am seeking information on Evalina (Lena) Rayner who was involved in the Dam Busters project as a WAAF. She lived in Coningsby around 1942 and in the Bishop Stortford area early 1943, and later moved to Wales.J Tegg-Wilson
Beryl Ingram RAF HucknallBeryl Ingram served in the WAAF during WW2 and was involved with parachute packing.
Doreen Mary "Puck" MedhurstDoreen Medhurst was a prominent member of the forces concert parties during 1945/46.
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Voices of The Codebreakers: Personal Accounts of the Secret Heroes of World War II
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