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The Ex-WAAF and Hitlers Cheficon for Recommended story

by ageconcernnewcastle

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Winifred Temperley
Location of story: 
Northern Ireland
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
23 April 2004

It was a bitterly cold morning in January ’43 when I left home to join the WAAF at RAF Compton-Basset in Wiltshire. I had never been away from home before and like others who joined with me found the next six weeks very tough, drilling in all weathers, attending lectures and having tests. After our initial training two of us were posted to Northern Ireland, we weren’t told where we were going until we started our journey this was because security was very tight in N. Ireland as the German Embassy in Dublin was only an hours’ journey away. We couldn’t even tell our parents where we were going, fortunately my grandparents come from N.Ireland so I wrote and told them I was very near our ancestral home!

Our designation was Clerk/Special Duties which was working as plotters in Fighter Command operations and our first station was at Ballyhalbert on the Ards Peninsular, our operations room was a few miles away and underground, it was very interesting plotting enemy and friendly aircraft, we occasionally plotted German Submarines around the N. Ireland waters and if we were due leave we were very watchful to see where they were.

After almost a year at Ballyhalbert preparations were well on the way for D. Day and our squadrons were sent back to England so we were sent to Belfast where we worked at Fighter Command Group Operations in Stormont Buildings. Now when I see Stormont on T.V. I look at that very long walk up to it. It was a very exciting time as Belfast Lough was one of the receiving bases for some of the Allied Navys so there were various types of warships and we were occasionally invited on board. On D-Day we were all given a letter from General Eisenhower encouraging us and wishing us well.

After D-Day, operations in N. Ireland almost ceased and we were all dispersed to various places, I was sent to Millfield, Northumberland where I worked in Flying Control until the war ended in Europe.

When the war ended our jobs disappeared and I was sent to Records Office in Gloucester which everyone dreaded being sent to and I soon volunteered to go on a Mess Stewards Course to get away from it. After the course I was sent to Transport Command Headquarters in Huntingdon assisting the WAFF Sergeant in charge of the Officers Mess. I hadn’t been there very long when she went off on leave and the day after she left the Officers Mess Adjutant told me that all R.A.F. kitchen staff were leaving and were being replaced by German Prisoners of war. This was the time when we were getting pictures of the Concentration Camps which were dreadful so I was very apprehensive about having to work with them. However, when they arrived an R.A.F. Sergeant and myself (Corporal) were taken by the Adjutant and introduced to them, as far as I remember there were about 16 of them and they all stood to attention and bowed to us. Two of them were chefs one of which was one of Hitler’s banqueting chef (apparently he had one or maybe more in each service) the rest were the usual kitchen staff. In no time at all the mess was a different place, the walls were all washed down with soda and all utensils were gleaming silver, menus were written out for all meals and as this was the time when people were being demobbed, buffet parties were being arranged frequently and the two chefs produced some wonderful dishes. I got to know them quite well they showed me photos of their wives and children and like our P.O.W they were all looking forward to going home.

Both the RAF Sergeant and I received our demob dates for the same day and usually this was celebrated in the local pub but the chef who was Hitler’s banqueting chef said he would do our farewell dinner instead of going to the local. He produced a beautiful meal for us both and I remember we asked the adjutant if we could buy them a beer (they weren’t allowed any drink) as it was a special occasion and he agreed so we had a tray of drinks sent to them.

So ended a most important and interesting time of my life which stands out in my memory. I made many friends and what I found most was how tolerant people were, it didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, everyone was friendly.

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Message 1 - The ex WAAF and Hitlers Chef

Posted on: 04 May 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


I have very much enjoyed reading this and your other contributions. Great stuff!

Kind regards,


Message 1 - Query re POW camp

Posted on: 02 August 2004 by ballylesson

During WW2 I played the piano for a church service at a POW camp near Belfast. I was in my early teens and
accompanied the Presbyterian Minister
to the event. I remember being given
cocoa at a NAAFI canteen afterwards.
Also a recollection of what were German
words to some of the hymns.
I have no idea where this camp was
located. Can anyone shed any light
on the subject? Thank you.

Message 1 - Ballyhalbert

Posted on: 23 January 2006 by belindablueeyes

I volunteered for the WAAF on my 18th birthday in Nov 1942 and was posted to Innsworth for initial training. Then on to near Blackpool for our square bashing etc. Up and down the promenade in the winter Atlantic gales. Our necks were rubbed raw with our rough greatcoat collars and our heels with our heavy shoes.We spent our breaks in Morecombe Woolworths which was empty and used by the forces as a NAFFI.We were asked where we wanted to be posted to and I said "Biggin Hill" because that was near my home.After being told I was to be a Clerk S.D.(plotter) I was given a slip of paper with the word Ballyhalbert on it. No one had ever heard of the place. I ended up on a freezing cold spot at 3 o'clock in the morning at Stranraer, Scotland. We got on a boat there and as soon as the ship left the harbour the alarm went off. We were told over the tannoy to get life jackets on and wild rumours started flying that a U boat was in the water. After doing this stormy crossing about a dozen times when I came on leave and back I realised that the alarm went off every time as soon as we left the harbour.
It was a few days after Xmas 1942 and my first sight of N Ireland was the sun shining on the mountains of Mourne.We arrived at Larne and were taken by train to Belfast and then by lorry to Ballyhalbert in the countryside and to an empty cold Nissen hut with no idea how to light the stove. Winter was grim especially riding a bike to the ops room down country lanes in the blackout with snow on the ground. I was there about 6 months and then re mustered to a radar operator and was posted to Ballywooden. It was summer by then and coming out into the daylight on nightwatch at dawn when the field in which our mobile radar machines were was magic with hundreds of skylarks rising and singingand the sun shining on the mountains of Mourne. I was sitting on the doorstep of the nissen hut,off duty, on D Day listening to hundreds of planes flying across the channel on the tannoy. I also spent a few weeks in the ops room at Stormont in Belfast with my plotting rod as a plotter. There were trolley buses which ran up the steep slope to the building. Members of the forces in uniform could ride round belfast on the trams for one old penny, which the conductors reffered to as one D. The front and back of the trams upstairs were open to the skies and It was my idea of cheap entertainment toget upstairs on the circular tram on a sunny day and go round and round for one old penny then get of and go into one of the dozens of milk bars to round of the afternoon with a milkshake. A nice change from working in the city of London in the blackout and nightly air raids.
After some time the Yanks arrived so we had to build a huge air field for their Flying Fortresses etc. Then they built us a big radar station and the peace was gone for ever. We even had a NAFFI then, before we used a local cottage and the housewife was given extra rations to make us tea and sodafahl "home made bread made with baking soda instead of yeast and cooked on an iron grid suspended up the chimney" We were right on the coast and spent off duty time sunbathing in the summer


Message 2 - Ballyhalbert

Posted on: 27 January 2006 by belindablueeyes

This is a continuation of Ballyhalbert
my best friend, who joined up aged seventeen and a half, was posted to Devon so I applied to go there too.I had to wait some time for my posting and when it came it was to Northumberland. What was the point of them asking where you wanted to go if they sent you as far away from there as possible?
I went by lorry to Belfast and caught a ship from there for a night crossing on a cattle boat. We arrived in the Clyde in the early hours and had to wait for the tide to come in so that the boat rose high enough to let the cattle off first, or that was what we were told.All I remember about Glasgow was going for something to eat in a YMCA. then a few hours wait for a train north. We sat up all night again and eventually arrived at Wick, which is near John o' Groats. We had to traipse all round the camp getting signatures from various officers as Wick was the wing H.Q. for Northern Ireland. I got something more to eat and then managed to catch a train to Edinburgh. As I crossed the Forth bridge I was told that I had to throw a coin in the water. I threw a penny, I didn't have a scottish grandmother for nothing.
on arrival at Edinborough I walked down the main road, past the Scot memorial and had a big breakfast in a nice restaurant. There didn't seem to be any food shortage in Scotland. Icaught the next available train to Newcastle, changed trains and then on to Morpeth where I had to phone the RAF camp for transport. I was told to wait until the ration wagon came to pick up food for the camp.I got to the camp at last. Three days without a proper was and not going to bed once. What was the greeting from the WAAF officer? "you don't look very smart, airwoman" Iwas told to get something to eat, draw some bedding and go to bed.The "something to ear" was a jam sandwich and a cup of tea. I slept for almost 24 hours. The girls in the hut got quite worried when I didn't wake up.
Some of the girls were locals and I couldn't make head nor tail of their Geordie accents.
I soon settled down and learned to live with the ugly surrounds, we were in the middle of an open cast mining area. I was very sorry I had left the pretty Irish countryside. It was very cold the first winter and we could see snow on the Cheviots for months.


Message 3 - Ballyhalbert (3)

Posted on: 30 January 2006 by belindablueeyes

Third part of Ballyhalbert.
It was just before Christmas when I arrived in Northumberland. Why do they always send you on long journeys in the worst weather?
I soon settled down, it was a small station. The C.O. was a nice man, he had been a pilot until he had lost an eye, he had black,curly hair and wore a black eye patch and looked to me like a pirate.The WAAFs had to take it in turn to sweep out the caravan where he slept and in return she was allowed to have a hot bath in his bath. We appreciated this as it was pretty chilly in our showers. Getting washed in the morning was no pleasure as we had to take it in turn to get up at 6 a.m. and light the copper fire,almost impossible. very often the water was stone cold. I bought myself a small tin kettle and heated water in it on the stove in the evenings when we were off duty. I got an empty leomonade bottle from the NAFFI and filled it to warm my bed. It was so cold that I woke one morning to find flakes of ice in the bottle in my bed. We had a lavatory in the end of our Nissen hut and in the cold weather we were issued with a red storm lantern to hang in there to stop the pipes freezing. We had to put up with jibes from the airmen about our "red light area"
Time on this p.c. in my library is going too fast so I had better shorten this .The war in Europe came to an end at last and radar stations closed down, They didn't know what to do with us so took us on a trip to Wallsend to explore Hadrians Wall. We also had a football match, WAFFs against against the men. The men went mad as usual and some of the girls ended up the worse for wear. Our lovely C.O. went to a nearby airfield, borrowed a Spitfire and flew round and round our station a bit too low for safety while we all stood and cheered him.
We all got posted from there soon after to Innsworth and became clerks in the records branch. I was ther on V.J day. Weall rushed off to Gloucester railway stn. and spent the weekend in London Cheering outside the palace
Time's run out Lots more to tell.....

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Women's Auxiliary Air Force Category
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