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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mrs Elizabeth (Betty) Raisin (nee Aston)
Location of story: 
Shropshire and Kent
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
26 April 2005

Betty in her NAAFI uniform

I joined the NAFFI in 1941 at Bridgnorth Open Air (under canvas) From there I was transferred to Atcham, Shrewsbury, and stayed for about 12 months, then the American soldiers came and the English moved out of their billets and into tents. The NAFFI was disbanded in this area and became the American Red Cross for 12 months, which I joined. I was transferred again to High Ercall, and back to the NAFFI. Whilst I was there they wanted special volunteers to go to London and so I went to Oswestry to meet up with others volunteers, down to London, and from there to Graves End, Kent. We were stationed in Seven Oaks. I remember a very big wood with a path. We were under canvas, every one wore helmets and there were trenches. We worked in a large marquee and the soldiers were the other side of the wood. It was very hard work. We had only been there about a week when one morning we woke up to find all the soldiers had just gone, they had been sent to France. We had heard nothing during the night.

After that we went back to Graves End and were taken to Guildford, Surrey, to a monastery. We were in another big field, more canvas, and more soldiers being sent to France but this time they wanted us to buy chocolate and presents for their wives and families as they had an idea as to what was going to happen. We couldn’t get anything for them, and were there for about a week before they too disappeared over night. Next I went to Hampshire to Clayton Barracks in Aldershot. I was only there for a few weeks before my mother was taken ill so I returned home to Shrewsbury, but later I went back to Bridgnorth before moving to Nesscliffe and Wem. In 1945 I went to Ainsworth, Gloucestershire till the end of the war.

I remember going to a lovely dinner-dance at Park Hall, Oswestry, with all the NAFFI girls. The American soldiers were very generous, providing a big tree, music and presents for the local children at Christmas time. One night some of the American soldiers tarred and feathered the Hercules statue in the Shrewsbury Quarry. It took quite some time to get him all cleaned up and restored to his former glory but caused much amusement!

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