Can you tell me your name, and when and where you were born?
I was Edith Grey then, but I’m Edith Hunter now, 30th of March 1921
Can you tell me a little bit about your parents, what did your father do?
He was a miner, at the Grey pit.
Did he serve in the First World War?
Do you have brothers and sisters?
I had an older sister, she was 5 years older than me. She was born the night they were bombing Hartlepool. Because my uncle, they all kneeled around the bed and he said, “Lord knows, if we have to go we can all go together”, and then he joined the Navy!
Did you have a happy childhood? Was it nice growing up where you did?
Yes, well we had more freedom than they have now. We could play without any danger. No paedophiles, I mean childers man used to go top of the hill, he used to give us a ride down in a motorbike and side car. Well you wouldn’t dare do it now. I mean our mothers were putting us in the thing.
What were your interests as a child?
Well we used to play all the time, dressing up, games. Luckily we had a big yard then we had the back street then the gardens then the fields, so we were alright. And trips, I was in the Glouths, you had to talk like that, the Glouths, and Bobby Bear Clubs and another one, there were 3. But you got free trips, you went and got your ticket, and got the train down to The Shield for the day.
Can you remember the build-up and the outbreak of war?
Yes. The aerodrome was near us, where Nissan is now, that was us and the aerodrome. We just got to know the lads there before I joined up, my friend and I.
When did you join up?
And did you get a choice who you joined up with?
Yeah, you had a choice, but it just depended where you were wanted, people put in for things, you might put in for the Air Force, but they were put in the Army or the Navy. Where we were on Kinloss we had 300 women and 900 men, and that had to be kept, that’s how you kept being posted to fit in. It’s like we had our chair-person of the association, she was a countess but how she became to become a countess, she was a hairdresser by trade, but there wasn’t a place for a hairdresser so she was put as a waitress in the Officer’s Mess, and that’s how she met the Earl and married him, so there you are. Well I worked in the Officers Mess, but you did different jobs. It depended what was wanted. It was Norwegian headquarters and it used to be King Olaf, they used to come for so long. And when they used to come, even in war time, it was always a waitress to two officers.
Were you always stationed in RAF Tain or did you move about?
RAF Leuchars, was 18 months there, and that was when we were getting ready in 1944 for D-Day. Well we didn’t know, we knew there was something going on, back when the Americans arrived, two years late. I was standing with them, watching down below on the airfield, and you couldn’t have put a pin down for planes and trucks and Jeeps and the lot. And this “look out at the goddam planes, for the goddam USA, and who’s are the goddam trucks” and Ada said “those are the goddam men”, they were all British and Colonial standing down then. “Cute little English kid, where you from?” I says “Washington” *gasps* “Oh” I says, “Not yours, where your Grandad used to live”. But they called them “Wessington” you know, it wasn’t “Washington” it was “Wessington”, but they were alright, it was just their way. I tell you what they liked, the fish and chips in the newspapers. They couldn’t understand that at all, even the officers! They used to say “Can you come down to the village with us?” and have the fish and chips.
The old fashioned comedians you known now Leslie Fuller, he was a comedian, now his son was a Squadron Leader there. On Friday night was guest night. They had a dance, and his wife was there, and the men didn’t live there, but the wives did. And his brother came, he was an officer in the Navy, and his wife. So they were looking for someone to mind the child. So Margaret and I said, “oh, we’ll do it”, we volunteered for all these things. So we go down, and they set off, the girls in their long dresses, sitting on the handlebars, getting peddled with the thing. Of course they had no wireless, nothing to entertain us, and we’d read all the books, so we thought we’d better go up and look and see what this kid’s doing, sleeping his little head off. So we tried all their long dresses on! Then we went to bed around 12 o’clock, and they came in about half past 4! But our breakfast was all set and ready for us, they were good lads.
Did the Battle of Britain affect you much?
That was before my time.
You mentioned D-Day, did you have much involvement in the build up to that?
That was the 6th June. I was posted up to Scotland, well they asked for volunteers for Scotland. They were bringing in the squadrons from Iceland who had been guarding the Atlantic Convoys. On the day the CO said “todays the day you work 24 hours or 25 if needed”. He thanked everyone the next day as you were all on duty no matter what.
Was there a lot of training up there?
No. You just did your job. We did lots of parades, lots of Battle of Britain parades in different towns. We volunteered for that as we got lunch at Keelers, the marmalade people; their daughter was an officer there. We had tea at Kate’s Tea Rooms so we all volunteered for these marches (laughing).
How did your parents react to you going in the WAAF/WRAF?
They just took it for granted. My younger sister was 12 years younger than me.
Where you excited or scared about going?
No. I’m not like that anyway. I just take what comes. I went with a girl from Washington, I didn’t know her. We went down to a Nissan hut which had a boiler in the middle. It was 5 o’clock, had to be home by 10pm as the blackout had to come down. We got our uniform and were given a sheet of brown paper, label and string. What we were wearing was packed up in that and sent home. That was the end of civilian life you see. We didn’t have any civilian clothes at all just a 52(?) piece kit. But then we had gas masks, gas capes, gas hoods and things. Every Saturday morning we went through gas routines. This was at Leuchars you see, to see what gas killed you. (laughing) Well how are you going to tell that! One tasted like acid drops. I don’t know which one that was. We thought we would give it a miss one time. This was a Saturday morning and in the afternoon we were going to Dundee. We had all our regalia on & marched through the camp to the de-contam centre as if we’ve been gassed. We took everything off. There was a bucket of whitewash and a brush and we had to do each other with that – naked – We were laughing our heads off and nobody sat beside us for a week as it stuck you see. Needless to say we were on parade the next day.
What was an average day like for you?
We did shifts you see. 4 till 8 at night, 8 till 12, then 12 till 8. We just answered the phone, told the officers were their rooms were and different things like where the laundry went and when. They always got their uniforms cleaned at Pullers of Perth you know. We told them whatever they wanted to know. I didn’t have anything to do with their private calls; I just sent them into the air (?). There was one time though when I took a private call and couldn’t make out the woman’s name. Mr Willis came, he was a civilian in charge of the mess and he couldn’t make out the name either, it was a Mrs Fog and he went potty cos he missed a call from his wife (laughing).
Did you get much leave?
No. We got a day off a week, a 48 hour pass once a month which was never enough to go home as we had no money to go anywhere. We got a week off every 3 months. You know they say they haven’t been home for 3 months, I didn’t go home for 10 months and I was in this Country! That was when D-Day started and all leave was cancelled. I was 8 months without leave. The only girls who benefitted were the girls from Dundee who were based at Leuchars. They still had to pay their own fares though to Glasgow. That’s what Gladys did, the travel and things. She worked in Prince Charles’s house.
With what squadrons were you based?
Well I was with the Australian Squadron 455 and 86 Squadron. Well we were Coastal Command you see. There was Coastal Command, Fighter Command and Bomber Command and Headquarters but now it is just all Strike Force. So everybody was for their own thing. Yeah. So that is why I was on the coast most of the time.
So what was the main function of the base?
Well just doing your work – what you did, just what I did in there. I mean the girls who was the Plotters and everything just did that and if there was a raid you stopped at your post until you were told to leave and that was that. And somewhere down the south where they had a lot of the bombing, there was like trenches where you could jump in. I mean there was shelters you know, we went down shelters yeah, but you had to put all your gear on to get down there.
Can you remember any funny incidents of the time?
Funny incidents? Well I don’t know whether it’s funny or not but Peggy Kellett you know, she sang with a band on the thing, and she had very fine hair, I’ve got a picture of her ……….., little curls. This Canadian, Woodtod, he put water on it you know and straightened it. She gave him the how…. , opened the window and nearly had him out because he wasn’t very big you know and I threw my tea at him and all. ‘I’ll get you tomorrow’ says he. So tomorrow come and I thought it was only 8 o’clock in the morning and I thought what am I doing and so I mean we had ink in fountain pens that was still in my jacket pocket the fountain pen so I did me eyes black and I had a sleep and I went to the office like that. Then he come and what he was going to do and Tye the one I went out with – ‘What’s the matter?’ and I says ‘Well I had to have my inoculation and this is the result. ‘You could have had 24 hours off’ and I says ‘But it was the girl’s day off so I had to come in’. You’ll never die will you? So then after that they just left it but they felt that was it you know. But there was all kinds of tricks went on. I tell you what was in, the lads from Glasgow. They made flare bottoms out of their trousers you know, their best trousers. You had a good suit – a dress suit and a work one and they cut the vents open and they cut the other trousers and made flare bottoms out of their trousers. Now they were, well I mean they were the queer… with the chains, the bicycle chains, that slashed the ears off, cut the ears off, aye, nobody dared say nought to them you know. They should have sent them over deck.
Was there any tragic incidents happened where you were stationed?
Ah yes I mean, yeah, well you see planes had to get rid of, if they came back with any ammunition, sometimes I had to ……… because we did the ships, and bombs and that, they had to jettison before they came in you see, ………………of course burst into flames but you see one of our girls she dragged him out and then lay on the top of him you see. Well they got the George Medal and things like that you know. There was quite a few like that. Well like one of the … Jack Davenport, he was the Wing Commander of 455 Squadron.
He was up in the tower when the Australians were coming back and he saw this one on fire and he went and he pulled the pilot and he was badly burnt himself and he was good looking. He got the George Medal as well like you know. And on D day well he was a farmer, farming …….., that was up at T………… , he had three planes down and he was in the Liberator with 9 crew ………………… you know. Because that was the first plane that I stood on the bomb doors. We didn’t fly; there was nobody did any flying. There was the Spitfire girls but they weren’t in the Air Force, they were just on their own. They were all wealthy, they had done things with their brothers. They rode, they did everything you know. Because there was one on the telly, she was 91 wasn’t she, and she took this Spitfire and the mechanics were standing about and she says ‘Are you waiting for somebody?’ and they said ‘Yes we are waiting for the pilot’ and she says ‘Well I am the pilot’. Sacrilege! A woman with a Spitfire, you know! Shouldn’t have looked on it never mind flew it you know.
Yes there was all the incidents under the sun you know. You can’t remember. Somebody was doing something all the time. I mean like for instance my friend, she was in the top bunk. We always had to open the windows and things and she was forever getting out of this bunk to see that the windows had been done. In fact she got a thing off the MO – he gave her it, that she must have a bottom bunk or she would kill herself jumping out of this top bunk you know. And you see there was never anywhere for the WAAFs – we were always stuck in huts, the men were in the brick buildings, this was at Leuchars, and we were in the hut and then some lad, I don’t know what his idea was, as there was 25 of us in the hut you know, ……….. in bed in the dark by just the shadows and you could see the mice running around the shelf you know and this lad come in and attacked one of the girls. Well I mean he stood a chance, didn’t he, with 25 of us in there! So the RAF Regiment come and got him away and they stood around on guard while we were hanging out of the window like this with our blue and white striped pyjamas like a load of convicts you know!
You didn’t know what you were going to be doing next. So as then we were put into the men’s block and they put the ‘Out of Bounds to all RAF personnel’ so the, the Americans, the Poles, and the Australians said ‘it doesn’t apply to us’ you see, but I mean we had lovely Christmases. The Officers waited on you, not on Christmas Day but they waited on you on Boxing Day, if you were in the Mess and then at Silloth the officers there, for just the Officers Mess crew, they did everything, they cooked the meals, they manned the boilers, did the telephones, did everything and we had a lovely time. And you see, same as them, the punchbowl was the turret of the plane and that was good yeah. And then another time it was a Guest night, we thought these men at 40 were ancient you know, Squadron Leader Burden? he said ‘do you girls want a job for tonight’ you know. ‘Well what’, ‘well would you do the cloakroom’, ‘Yes – what do you want us to do?’. ‘Would you take the ladies’ cloaks?’ Well she said ‘Ladies?’ because they used to bring anybody in here. I think that lads used to stand at the top of Silver Street and say ‘Will you or won’t you’ you know. And they are coming in and the Squadron Leader says ‘I know they are not fit to tie your shoe laces but would you just hang their coats up?’ ‘Yes’ so that was it. Well you see we used to do the Palais Glide ………. we just joined in on the end you know. It was all free and easy. Now this just shows the difference in people.
Them that are little jumped up nobodies. You can tell them between the real thing because we had a Miss Wyatt and she came in and three – two beds together – we didn’t know why you had to have two beds together. We were issued with three blankets and sheets – the men didn’t have sheets and the ………. straw, three straw biscuits like them and that was your bedding and it was freezing you know, so she marched up and flung the thing back and there’s three of them in the bed.
But you see they had nine blankets on where us in our single beds just had the three, cos you put a blanket on, you put your things on, then your sheet and then your sheets and then you wrap the blanket over then you put the other one that way. You were like an envelope you see – you had to get in the bottom like that. But- No she was like that. Yeah we had a one, she was Lady Scott Maxwell and she was a lady. And this was at Silloth, she come and did the inspection, and Margaret and I shared a room, it was a big house called ??? just an ordinary big house, we were in the attic up at the top. I had the kit all out on the bed you know, 52 pieces on the bed, and I had brought little Jeowart, he was a Canadian, he got promotion from a Pilot Officer, a Pilot Officer wasn’t a Pilot, that was just the first rank, and that was a narrow strip, being made a Flying Officer which was a bit thicker strip. So Ada says “oh I’ll sew that in for you, all right” so I brings it back to the billet …….I’ll press it and hung it up and Miss Scott Maxwell she did the kit and it passed and said “why’s that tunic up there grey?” so I told and she says “oh that’s very commendable” but she said “I wouldn’t leave it there, somebody might get the wrong idea” like as if he’d been and stopped you know. But that was just the difference with her to the other one. She’d have put you on a charge looking at you, you know. ….. disks, disks you know, dog tags, and she err, Margaret Davidson didn’t know what she’d done with hers, cause you had to wear them all the time on a bit of string, and it’s a good job she started with me and I had mine. So I just pushed mine across to her, she put hers on then, you had to, you learnt all the tricks as you went along, I mean, you were as innocent as you’d be when you went in, but that’s where you grew up.
I mean, we did our, ….. were all kitted out, and we came to Morecambe, and you were in the cattle mart, we were just like a load of cattle you see, and we were put into the guest houses, cause they’d had all the men in you see, we were the first WAAFs. Well the landladies didn’t care for us cause the men used to do the fires and that where we had, we had to wash up. And it rained all the time, November, and we did our PT on that front at Morpeth, in your shorts and your brassiere, in the rain, didn’t matter what it was. And that Pavilion …. Thora Hird, she used to talk about her father’s, that’s where we had our lectures, we didn’t know one thing from the other. We thought VD was Volunteer Drivers. And then of course we did err, we learnt how to march there, and I can see foxes ??? no wonder they’re bawling shouting at yah, because it’s surprising, you know when you set off to walk, your left leg goes with your right arm, but when you have to march you see you’re putting your right arm and your right leg well you’re falling down you see you’re off balance. I mean I didn’t, but John McIntyre, he had lads in his battalion and they couldn’t get it right, they got put out, mind they might’ve been doing it on purpose. But it, it’s funny how that is, now my friend Joan, we had shoes you know, and she got blisters
I don’t know if you knew what Galoshes were, well I wish I had them, I had no idea. She was always prepared for everything, Joan. So she put her plimsolls on and the galoshes, well I thought he was going to die on the spot; “What the bloody hell are they?” he says. Fancy marching along in your galoshes.
“I want to hear those eyes click”, they do when you do eyes right, so we were all going *clicks tongue*. I was often the marker, and he said “you don’t do eyes right, because you have to keep that line straight.” I did that even in Australia, when they Australian women were 50 years old we went to their reunion. That was in Melbourne.
And what was that like? Going over there and being involved in that?
Oh good, there was always 600 at our reunion. There was only 6 from England had gone there, we made friends with the girls there. That was good. I even had roast beef and Yorkshire puddings for our dinner there. They didn’t even know what Yorkshire puddings were!
How did you cope with the fear, and the loss of colleagues?
That was a different thing all together. Feeling although you just expected to see them, and they didn’t come back. While I was 18 months at Lucas, and 4 months up at Tierne then sent to Scilly, Stallick 18 we used to call it, because it had electric wiring round the fence. We were billeted in the hotels around there, it was to keep us out and them in. We would shout out “good morning” to the guard, and he’d shout out “it has been”, because he’d been there since 6 o’clock in the morning. You talk about hygiene, now you called them your irons, your knife, fork, spoon and your mug. In the morning there was a big tank of water outside, and that was where you washed your knife, fork and spoon, but by tea time, there’s that much grease, but you’re still washing in it.
You got paid once a fortnight, and each time you got an injection. We didn’t know what for. He was potty the MO, and he’s checking us in, and Peggy Kellet says “do you not want this thing?” and it was in her arm. They just went along with this thing, and she had it at the end of the line. It just shows, they have all this performance now, and everyone’s infected with something. We had hairdressers and things like that. It was a different friendship altogether to a civilian friendship because we were all young; we just had to get on or not.
What did you think of your uniform?
It was OK! I’ll show you, I’ve only got the jacket now. Everything was buttoned the men’s way. This shirt is buttoned the men’s way and all that. This wasn’t one of their shirts, but I did get given a man’s shirt. Cleaning your buttons you see….
You said you lost some friends?
Yes, Norwegians, lovely people. Mostly pilots, Johansson. They spoke better English than we did Norwegian. If they couldn’t find the English word they would say it in their own language and then apologise (laughs). Now, not the white South Africans. They could speak English but when you came near them they spoke Afrikaans. They’re bottom of the list. Then the Yanks. The Poles were very nice. They wouldn’t come down till they got a kill.
Where were you when the war ended and what was the mood like when it was announced that war had ended?
We all had ‘de-mobitis’. When the war ended no one obeyed orders. I remember coming down with Philomena, she was a bonny girl, and an airman walked towards us with his hands in his pockets, his cap on the back of his head and his tie over his shoulder. Philomena said:
“Are you getting ready for demob airman”?
“Well you will never be demobbed if you don’t put your uniform right” (laughs)
Us conscripts had ‘de-mobitis’. We were only there for the duration unlike the regulars. There was a girl called Nellie Ford who cried every night to go home. They had posted her to Northern Ireland, she didn’t go but she still cried every night.
Can you tell me about your life post-war?
I was 6 weeks off and had my varicose veins done. I was a cashier at the picturehouse, thought I was Greta Garbo, nearly walked into a lamp post because of my hair over my eyes (laughs). I loved Robert Taylor he had a widows peak, you wouldn’t know him, was married to Barbara Stanwyck. He divorced her and married a German. Well that was it, out of the frame he went and in went Errol Flynn (laughs). I loved the pictures.
Can you tell me a little about your family?
They came from Sherborne (?) in Durham. My dad was a miner. My mother was called Lizco (?) with a Z. It came from the romans I think, you can tell by the nose. My older sister was married at 21; her husband was called up 3 months before the war started. They had a son who was 18 months when his daddy went away. He was 3 days in the water then sent to Burma. Our George was 7 when he came back. George regarded my dad as his dad. My sister came back to Washington to live and that’s the way it affected them. There were very few Jap POWs who had children when they came back. The Japs were bottom of the list for what they did to our boys and nurses. They all had nicknames for them, Nips, Frogs. I forget the others (laughs)
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
We forged some lovely friendships which have lasted to this time. Nora from Liverpool, Joan from Middlesbrough, Margaret from Blenkinsop, Betty from Worthing. Only 2 left from the 7…. it’s a different kind of time, because you’re all dependant on each other.
Can you tell me about what you’ve done with the WAC Association?
Oh, well we have a reunion every year, they’re down South this year. We used to organise it ourselves. Madge and Margaret, Orla from Liverpool and Joan. We did the first one in Scotland at Galashiels. Madge lived in Minto, at the memorial hall there. There were 350 then. We’ve always had them down South. The nearest one we’ve had was Scarborough, that was very nice, but you see we used to do it ourselves, but the Dorothy Jones died, and we all got older. The new ones that came on, that hadn’t been there from the beginning, they put it over to the Isle of Wight. I liked Buxton, but you’ve got to change at Birmingham. I know it’s a lot different now. You see when we went it was as Black as night at Birmingham, we couldn’t see where we were, and we had to change trains.
When we went to Worthing we had to change stations, we had to go to Victoria from Kings Cross. It was very nice when we got there, but when we were coming back the chap there said “Why don’t you get the train to” I’ve forgotten what he said. It was just when they were building up Kings Cross and St Pancras. He said “you’ll only have to change at one place”. They met us at the train with a ramp, because Madge was struggling with a stick, her eyesight wasn’t very good then.
We got on the train for Kings Cross, and I saw the London Eye, and I thought, it won’t be long now. The next thing we’re in the middle of the country, and I said to the young chap “Have we passed Kings Cross? He said we needed the one back. He said over the bridge, the next one coming is the express train, it’s the next stop.
So in we jumped. There were 2 attendants waiting for us. They were both Polish, a boy and a girl, and they got our cases for us. The red and white gates were down to stop the traffic, and they put them down for us two toddling across with the cases. I remember we got onto the platform this young man said “I’ll see how long we have. You’ve got 4 minutes”. We had to get to the other end you see. We got there and the station master and driver was waiting and he said “Come on Girls!”. I said to him, “We had more trouble here than winning the war!”. Madge was a mile behind with a stick so he said “Missus can you get on the train so I know where you are!”We had some carries on I tell you getting trains and that! They were always very good to you! Just put it down to ignorance.
When we used to go to Dundee we used to go to the ice-rinks, and the Norwegians used to be there! We thought we were Sonia Haney, she was the world champion, she was Norwegian! We were hanging on the back of their coat tails. Then coming back down the bank to get to the station. You had to be back by 11:59. There were 2 entrances, you either came in from St Andrews or from the village. We were all racing. The guard standing shouted “friend of foe?”, “Foe” we shouted. “I’ll shoot all your buggers” he shouted back. No wonder we were all that time winning the war. When I think about St. Andrews Golf Course, we used to cycle all over it. We were given bikes, no brakes or anything like that, you used to put your feet down to stop it and if you didn’t go over the top, that was your hard luck. No bells or anything like that.
At Tain it was 8 miles to the village. It must have been pay day, because I got a perm and my nails done. We went to the Morangie Hotel, Margaret and me, for tea. We sat there and Squadron Leader Parker and his co-pilot came in and he said “Now girls what are you doing here?” We said we had to wait for a table, they had a table straight away. The asked if we’d like to join them, well we were sitting down before them! We came out, “What are you going to do now girls?” We were just going for a ride, “Do you mind if we come?” So then there was the little dancing hall and the lamps were banging on your head, and Jeff said just let them be! The chap said 5 shillings and he says ‘we just want to come in; we don’t want to buy the place’. They only got £48 a month the squadron leaders. We got 10 shillings a week then it went up to £3 a fortnight, but then we only had to buy our polish and our entertainment you know. Our day off was spent in Inverness, go to the pictures, have our tea. Alfredo would sing ‘wish me luck as you wave me goodbye’.
A Mr ?, he was a batman at Leuchars and he use to have us over to his house for tea and when my sister & her friend came up from Washington they stopped with him. He was good. I’ve never met a mean Scotsman but I’ve met some careful Yorkshire men. (Laughs)
We got demobbed at Birmingham and I was with Kitty, she came from Glasgow. Oh I didn’t tell you about Chris. She was 32 you know and came from? and they had their own pub – The Plough/Pew (?) Inn – and we were billeted in the tack room above the stables when we were at Kinloss/Kinross. There were no horses. There were 4 of us, Margaret and me and Mona and Minnie from Hamilton. Chris would tell us it’s time to get up but by then she had had a wee dram which she had brought from home. She stuck to the rules and I’ll never know why we didn’t end up on ‘jankers’. I hadn’t long been in when these 2 Australian officers asked us into the mess. That’s where Beer shampoo came from; they use to pour it over your head. Now I came home with some other sergeant and we were standing talking and the SP came along – RAF special police and his dog –
“Can I see your pass WAAF?”
“I haven’t got one, didn’t think I needed one”
It was after 10pm
“You haven’t got one. Guard room in the morning, 8am”
I go there in the morning and there’s about 18 people there. We go in and out and I explained and was told to never let it happen again.
What was the food like?
Very good, what the cook did with it. We had lovely ham salads. Mine’d you we only had a small piece of bread and 2 small pats of butter. We had marmalade and that. Now the black Jamaicans had their own food and so did the Poles. That was their choice.
We use to pinch spoons to clean our shoes with to make them look like leather. We made tea in jam cans, no sugar, but the best tea ever…
I remember Doddie South she says ‘Im getting quite good at stealing, Ive been down and got some soup out of the cookhouse’. We didnt get anything after tea time, high tea, we had quite a good high tea, and we had quite a good breakfast but as I say its what the did. Now, the lads used to go fishing, the officers, at the Tay and the cooks used to do some lovely things with it, that was alright. If you were on duty in the mess, otherwise you went to the canteen. But all the Scottish ladies came with their baskets of buns because their bread buns are beautiful. Theres us paying a ha’penny to get one of these buns you know.
The Church of Scotland were very good, they were very good yeah. You just had to make the best of wherever you were you know. There was always those that made a carry on, there was one in Forres, there was one pub that didnt allow WAAF’s in but I dont know why? Because I went out with some… well he had been in the army but then was working at the camp. He lived in Forres and took us out there and they wouldn’t let us in. Oh he went potty I thought he was going to start World War 3. But there must have been some carry on you know. Somebody not acting right. But they were all very good. Yeah the Churches were. I cant grumble about anything, I mean you miss being at home and things like that but then you knew you were there and you had to accept it if you know what I mean. No good sitting oh I want to go home. Thats no good going home because you would just get brought back, then you’d be a bit more to do, because it was safe to say if you got jumpers afterwards you would be peeling potatoes for a week or you scrubbed the parade ground with a toothbrush. So, please yourself what ya did. I mean the lads were more daring than e did like you know. But there ya are.
We were just going of duty, Margaret and me and this American plane come. They were supposed to be delivering planes to Cornwall and they come to Scylla but they couldn’t get any further from Cornwall. It’s next to Scotland is Scylla. So could we show them the town by Scylla, it had a lovely fish and chip shop, everybody was in there on a Friday so we took them there you know. So we just said cheerio to them as we went into our hotel billet you know thinking they should have been going of the next morning so the next night we are just in bed cos we had no money to go on the spenders and Sgt shouts is Gray and McCrethan here because there is 2 Americans out here. They had driven the plane of into the wood so they were stuck again I mean this was how they helped you know. So we took them to the Honky Tonk again. When you think about all the things you did you know but thats just the way they were. But, I like the Australians, when you took their names in the morning for their meals you know, the Officers would come in ‘Good Morning’, ‘Good Morning Sir’, then the Aussies, ‘Good day and how are you this morning’. Our officers… pfft. And then the Polish would come in and Dzien Dobry. Now that was all points of view at one time. Welcoming, names for different welcomes and nobody got (?), Edith did like! Dzien Dobry Mycana is Good morning my darling… because the girl she was Polish when we are at Scarborough and I said to here what does that mean and she said ‘Who said that to you?’ I said ‘Your Officers’. She says it means good morning my darling. You see they wouldn’t come down until they had shot somebody, same as the Norwegians. There was one lad there his back was all just like mincemeat, he had been escaping and was on the back of a motorbike and he had gone back and he was on the ground all the time, on his back, Larsen, theirs ends with a ‘sen’ not an ‘on’, but a ‘sen’.
They were very nice. Yes there were some good lads. One had these little french knickers with Happy Landing on. Ive got them, he had them in his pocket see. Thats where he used to hang out to get the girls. But they all had their own ways you know. I think they all did, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Yanks. Not French, I only met one French man. And New Zealanders and the Canadians. Some of them they were in the 455 Squadron with the Australians.
Lots of Good memories.
Oh yes, yes. Well there really wasn’t any cattiness you know what I mean. You all just went on. Seeing me saying that… we were in the dining room and our light went off so I went into the ablutions and took a light and put it in and this Polish said ‘You cannot do that you cannot do that’, I said ‘I’ve done it, nip off’.
I never knew why but there must have been some reason, we were Southport doing our march there, they were marched all over the place you know. Usually about 600 of them parading about the place. They didn’t let the Polish girls march with us. It must have been because they weren’t in the association that’s all I can think off.
Now when we did the one at Doncaster beside the races, our hotel was there and the cenotaph was there so we were all out there and the Wing Commander laid the wreath then we went up, up the hill for to go to the church for our service you see, the cap was always on the thing and there was a bus for them that couldn’t walk with the ensign on you know. We are marching behind there and we got there and the church was still locked. So we got in there and then coming out and we set on down and of course we had to pass the cenotaph again and the CO was checking it out. Well you see you never stop unless you’re told too, by the bus stop but we didnt do it we were still marching on nearly over the top of the bus. Screaming ‘HALT’. Us just carrying on you know. But you had to do oh yeah you had to keep on. They were all very good, we had lovely reunions, never any men there you know just on the banquet night we had the Lord Mayor and one RAF officer to speak, oh I tell you what we had one time, that was in Buxton and Jackie was there, he was in the caravan though my husband was in the guest house we didnt know them then. It was the first one Madge had been too and we had an outing there to the tram museum where the Devonshires lived in the Midlands, its a well known house to go to and 300 went to the tank museum and it just so happened that Jackie and Douglas came then, the woman says ‘Oh you’ve come to see all these WAAF’s’, ‘No, I’ve come to get away from them’. Then we changed over and there was this magnificent nude model you know, man, and the fella is giving us the tale you know, the curator and Nora says to him Yes I know its a work of art but if we had it in the house it would be pornography. He says yes you’re right! That’s where we learnt that the Queens jewellery is cleaned with soap and water.
They had an old army NAAFI on wheels and the lads all had their ties on and the tram museum, we had free rides on the trams and that. The guest night at Buxton and the Lord Lt was there because his wife had been a WAAF but she was in her role as being his wife you see and was standing beside Jackie and he says they’re not us, well they are not RAF now they are all just WAAF. But when we sign our cheque for the thing it is ‘and other associations’ we dont belong to other associations. That WAAF officer came to speak with the Group Captain that Ive got my photo with and she says ‘How did you get all them curls in your hair?’, I said ‘With pin curls’. Theres no pins in this hair, your hair had to touch your collar you see. Now a lot of girls had their hair in a stocking rolled up you see, stuck in here, I’ve watched Foyles War and the girl that drives for him thats the way she has her hair in a stocking tied up. But it had to come down and touch your collar. The men you see, the sergeant would get a hold of their collar and say take a step forward, I can’t sarge, I know because I’m standing on your bloody hair!
Now little Betty she was a flight mechanic so they used to push her up in the bomb doors because her little fingers could get into the screws but they didnt have any time for them otherwise. When they took the chocks away they were at the back keeping the tail down you see and they had to sit on the tail and if they didnt jump of in time by the time it took of they just fell off, but that was their fault because they should have jumped of in time. No compensation for breaking your neck.
I shouldnt say this but, but Nicky one f them thats just died there, up there wearing the kilt, talking about the Scotsmen you see, shouldn’t be doing this and her husband was a Scotsman says ‘Well what about it Nicky’, well she said ‘My husband never goes upstairs on a bus’. So that was the answer.
Now she lives at North Shields, she was a balloon operator and she got posted to (?) and I went ‘Oh Nickys been posted over the water’. Oh dear, you’ll never see her, she says we will just get the ferry.
But Nicky is on night duty I mean the balloons were never on the station, they were always in the field or guarding the river and her and her mate 2 o’clock in the night she would go in and have a cup of tea because they were on guard and when they came out the balloon had gone. Now I don’t know if you have watched Dad’s Army but that was one and the balloon was wrapped round Bates Church, so they got put on charge because those balloons were half gas and half air, they had to get the specialists out to get it down. Needless to say they were on a charge, they were peeling tatties for a week. But her mother saying oh we will just get the ferry, he’s one of them that has just died now Nicky. You’ll have to censor all of that. Dont tell them where I am. But I never met that girl again that I went down with, I think I asked her, well she said she waited on the Queen will that do. So I dont think there is any more I’ve missed out and if I have it should be.