- Contributed by
- Civic Centre, Bedford
- People in story:
- Kay Wright
- Location of story:
- Bedford Area
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 June 2004
The Land Army Girl and the Americans.
I was 17 in London in 1939 when the war started. At 18 I did not want to be called up so I volunteered for the land army, where I was sent to a farm at Lower Dene, near Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, where I spent a month learning how to milk. The local country lads knowing that I came from London assumed that I thought that milk came in bottles and that I would not know a cow if I saw one. Perhaps they were right, because they tried to get me to milk the odd bull. After a month, there I went to another farm in Towcester, near Northampton, where I stayed for the summer. Come harvest time, I was sent to an arable farm at Box End, near Kempston to help with the harvest.
After that I went to work for Crysellco in Kempston, for lamp making, there I stayed for the rest of the war. Incidentally, Crysellco is still there in business today.
Towards the end of the war, I joined the Red Cross Club, as Bedford like everywhere else was becoming drab and miserable. That was until the Americans came. When they did, me and some of my friends, cycled to Thurleigh (you had to cycle as very few people had cars in those days, let alone the fuel to run them). When we got there, the young Americans made us very welcome and gave us some of their American Do-nuts and some real American Coffee. We were pleased to meet these handsome American Airmen.
We welcomed the magic of the USAAF bases that proliferated around Bedford. They offered entertainment and dances free to all the young ladies of Bedford. The Americans set up what they called a hostesses club, of which its members were given automatic invites to every do at every base, I was one of those members. I even went to the first concert given by Glenn Miller at Thurleigh, I clearly remember dancing to his music on the concrete floor of the hanger. Not only did I dance with the Americans at Thurleigh but also at many other bases in the area, for the Americans used to lay on transport from Bedford for us, all free of charge.
It was through these events that I meet a Lt Rob Vail, from Minnesota, who used to pilot B17s on bombing missions to Germany. He was later promoted to Captain around the time of the D-day landings. It is known that he flew on some of the 'softening up' bombing missions to Normandy during the time of the landings. I went out with him for about a year, and then I lost contact, I never did find out what happened.
Shortly after that the war ended.
Kay Covington (nee Wright), dictated to Ian Nutley at Bedford 3rd June 2004.
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