- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Rosaline Hjertzen (nee Clifford)
- Location of story:
- Mill Hill, Portsmouth
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 01 December 2005
Ros Hjertzen (nee Clifford)
Wren Air Mechanic (A)
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Three Counties Action on behalf of Ros Hjertzen from The Association of Wrens and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
I volunteered to join the WRNS after reading an article about the service in a magazine. On my 18th birthday, 1943, I was told to report to Mill Hill. After two weeks induction, I was sent on a four and a half month course as a trainee Air Mechanic. There were four categories, Engines, Airframes, Electrical and Ordnance. I was in the Airframe group. At the time I had asked to be a Radio Mechanic but the Admiralty were sending their Air Mechanics to the aircraft carriers and they needed replacements back at home. I thought Engines would be more interesting and requested a change, but, no, I had to stick to airframes.
H.M.S. FLEDGELING was to be my home for four and a half months. Every seven or sometimes fourteen days there were exams which had to be passed before going on to the next subject. A concentrated course, but on Saturday afternoons, the Wrens went on leave to Stafford or Stoke. On passing my exams I was sent to R.N.A.S. Lee-On-Solent, spending 1 and a half years looking after mostly Seafires, which were virtually Spitfires with the additional arrestor hooks needed for landing on aircraft carriers. By April 1944 everything we saw in the way of landing barges and boats in and near Portsmouth were secret and leave was cancelled. By June 1944 I was told with colleagues to paint the insignia of D Day Landings on to the wings of all aircraft.
The method was to take a long piece of strong twine and pass it over white chalk, then stretch it across the wings, front to rear, held by two mechanics. It was released sharply and twanged down on to the plane. This left straight lines, between which we painted alternate black and white stripes. All allied planes were thus identified. I was then sent to Worthydown to study further in order to check all planes arriving. Before finally getting my release I was sent to the Isle of Man and Crail in Scotland, leaving in December, 1945.
I also enjoyed marching in two celebration parades while at Lee-On-Solent, King George VI taking the salute, and one in London.
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