BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

My most memorable day in the WAAFs

by Betty Bowen

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
Betty Bowen
People in story: 
Betty Bowen
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 December 2003

It was spring of 1942. Our Officer was a fairly young Irish man whom everyone called Paddy - behind his back of course! He was quite jolly and came into my Group's office quite often and sometimes I would see him coming off the Oxford Train at the weekend. I heard a whisper that he had been posted and felt sorry about his going. However, the morning he was actually due to go, he came in my to my Group, presumably to say cheerio, and when I went to shake hands he said 'No, you are coming with me.' At that I said the only words which came into my mouth which was 'No I'm not!' and then he chipped in and said, 'Yes you are - go and get fitted out with your new working trouser suit and meet me in 20 minutes at 'A' Flight'. I was in a daze, but quickly did as I was told. Within minutes two other girls joined me who were also coming - where we didn't know. Apparently, we were the only girls who had asked if there was any chance of a plane trip - and this was it!

The plane, an Anson, was waiting for us in its parking place with the pilot already seating, but waiting for Paddy who was soon seen running towards us and was very quickly climbing aboard. We girls were seated and the pilot, with his rows of blue on his cuffs, indicating his high rank, was ready for the 'off'. Paddy soon took off his jacket, his tie, then rolled up his sleeves. We wondered what on earth he was going to do next, but we sooned learned. The plane was such an old warrier that the engine had to be manually revved up - and he had to do it which was a hard and exhausting job. We finally taxied on to the runway and was soon in the air. I was so thrilled and excited. I had to stand up in the middle of the plane and look out of the windows both sides not to miss anything. Below us I spotted a train, and to this day I can still see it in my minds eye - it was beautiful - just like a caterpillar pulling its rear up behind it. I often think of it.

We finally arrived at Cottersmore, our destination and to say goodbye to our Irish friend. We were told by the welcoming party to make our way to the General Mess where we could have a good meal before our return journey. We thanked the pilot who we later heard had been one of 'the few' in the battle to save our country. He was a very charming, polite young man and I hope he was lucky enough to get through the rest of the war unscarred, and has had a very good life since - as I have.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Forum Archive

This forum is now closed

These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - My most memorable day in the WAAFs

Posted on: 12 December 2003 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear BettyBowen

You have posted your story on the wrong page. It is at the RAF Research Desk.

A Research Desk is a forum where contributors can seek help on facts and also where you can reunite with people and research family history. It is unlikely that your story will be read here.

You could transfer it from its present location by copying the text (select all then Ctrl+c) and going to this page:

Fill in the details - title and place - and then paste your text into the box marked 'Story'.

Then, when you are happy with it, save it and submit it to the Editorial Desk - a button will prompt you to do this.

Best wishes,


Message 2 - My most memorable day in the WAAFs

Posted on: 12 December 2003 by Martin B - WW2 Site Helper


I read it - as I do most of the words on the RAF desk. Well done Betty, let's have some more.

People may well respond better to encouragement than pedantry. Maybe, Peter, you need to give contributors a little leeway. What's important is that the story comes out, not which box it gets put into.

Quisque Tenax


Message 3 - My most memorable day in the WAAFs

Posted on: 12 December 2003 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


I agree that it is a good story, I never even remotely suggested otherwise.

You have read it because you are a WW2 Researcher used to checking Research Desks, but I doubt if many others will see it. I do not regard it as pedantry guiding contributors. You appear to be suggesting that Betty should continue posting her story here at the RAF Research Desk.

You say "What's important is that the story comes out, not which box it gets put into." I fully agree with the first part, but if Betty's story remains here it will only be seen by Researchers and not by the public at large, nor will it be reviewed by the Editorial Desk. People are currently finding this site difficult to navigate and a full review is under way; until then guidance will continue to be needed.

Are you seriously suggesting that no help or guidance should be offered?


P.S. It is quite possible that having read Martin's post and mine, Betty, both being Researchers, that you will decide he is right and you will leave your story where it is. If so, it will be a pity. It is a very interesting story and I do hope that you will send it to the Editorial Desk where it will be reviewed for selection and later placed within its historical context.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Royal Air Force Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy