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15 October 2014
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The Terrifying Tractor Trail

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Bettina Gagg
Location of story: 
Bradwell Bay, Essex
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
13 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from Community Service Volunteers on behalf of Mrs Jane Common, nee Fielding, and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs J. Common fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

My mother Bettina Gagg was in the Women's Royal Air Force (WAFs), stationed in Bradwell Bay, Essex. During the war she worked for motor transport (MT), driving ambulances, petrol Bowsers (tankers), staff Humber cars and an old field marshal tractor.

Her worst moments were when she had to tow the Lancaster and Wellington bomber planes by the tractor, up to the air strip to take off on bombing raids to Germany. They had to be towed in between the Nissan huts, (dormitaries) where the WAFs slept in rows, 20 to a hut. The wings of the planes were literally inches away from the huts. Bettina was terrified if her precision was incorrect the wings would crash into the huts.

She lined the nose of the tractor up to a tarmac join. As long as she followed the join with the nose tip of the tractor she knew she would just miss the huts.

After being towed from the hanger, bombs were fitted to the planes when on the air-strip take off point. The planes would then head off to Germany. Fortunately for all the women involved Bettina Gagg's judgement was on target and all was well for the WAFs.

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