- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Bea Winterburn
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 April 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Bea Winterburn, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
Having worked in an office since leaving school in 1939, I was determined not to do office work in the forces. I had volunteered for the W.R.V.S. in 1942; in July, I went to Mill Hill in North West London for initial training and general assessment.
The “powers that were”, decided that Station X was my destination-the prospect of more secret office work didn’t appeal at all, so I said, “No thank you.”
In August 42, I was on my way to HMS Landrail, Machrehanesh in Argyllshire, as a maintenance WREN. In May, 43, I went on one of the first WREN Air Mechanics’ courses, specialising in engines at HMS Fledgling in Staffordshire. It was a five months intensive course; I learned about “Otto’s Cycles” and how to adjust tappets. I was also able to do daily engine run-ups and complete form 700 (Daily Inspection). On completion of the course, I was posted to HMS Nightjai (between Preston and Blackpool) to become the Commander’s (flying) personal mechanic. I loved the job, especially when Blackpool FC was playing at home. We would fly around Bloomfield Road for the second half of the match. The Commander would ask me for a description of the action. What I knew then and what I know now about football, wouldn’t fill a postage stamp. My father was a Bradford Northern Rugby League supporter and he enjoyed taking me to home matches (especially when I was wearing my WREN uniform).
I was fortunate to be able to work on the “Ancient and Modern” fleet of planes from Swordfish and Albacores to Fulmars, Seafires etc. Being tall, I was able to work inside the engine with a light strapped to my forehead.
I enjoyed my 2 ½ years in the WRVS, especially as I was doing something different from clerical work.
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