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15 October 2014
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Knickers full of sea water

by Genevieve

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Kay Hutton
Location of story: 
Harlech/ Llanbedr
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 July 2005

There were dances in the Village Hall in Harlech and there was a cinema — except when it rained you could her the rain pounding on the roof!
The dances were quite good. We preferred to dance with the RAF boys from Llanbedr because they had shoes and the army men had big thick boots and trod on our toes.

In the summer we used to swim and because we were on double summer time it was still light at 11.30pm so we’d go after the dance. We’d trail down to the beach and get changed in the sand dunes and have a lovely swim.

One of the ATS girls (she was a cook) she’d forgotten to bring her swimming costume so she swam in her knickers and bra and the knickers got filled with sea water — we were hysterical because she looked like the Michelin man.

The other ATS girls — there were only 2 drivers — we were attached to them for meals, sleeping accommodation and pay but they had no jurisdiction over us. They were attached to Colleg Harlech. It was a college for officers who’d come on weekly courses.
These girls who were in the same house as us were either bat women (they looked after the officers, cleaned their rooms and so on) and the cooks but that’s as far as it went. The ATS officers had no jurisdiction over us so we could come and go as we wanted. Which we did!

Once a week the American airmen from Atcham would send a lorry for us. The passion wagon we’d call it. We’d pile in the back and we’d go to their dances in the Sergeants’ mess.

Oh, the food there — out of this world! We’d dance to Glen Miller records — a lovely time! All truly innocent I assure you. Then the lorry would bring us back One winter’s night it was very late turning up, there was snow on the ground and we got cold waiting for them so we trailed across to the pub — the Royal Oak and I thought I’d have something quite innocent, like egg-nog because my mother used to make it for my brother when he was convalescing. I had three and I think they must have been stronger than I realised because one of the other girls said, “Is all I can remember about you was you rushing to the toilet every so often with your hand over your mouth” so that didn’t go down very well - but I never had a hangover.

One night was compulsory staying in - making do and mend. You had to darn your stockings — thick lisle - horrible. If you didn’t have any mending you were expected to do some sewing. Another night we’d stay in and wash our hair and do other necessary things.

The worst experiences we had were being woken up in the middle of the night by a civilian caretaker who’d knock on the door - “come on girls you’re wanted” and we’d just shove slacks and jacket over pyjamas and we’d pick up the medical orderly and we’d drive up into the hills and pick up bodies from crashed aircraft. We didn’t have to do any picking up. We’d have to drive through farmyards sometimes and the gates were narrower than the width of the ambulance and you’d hear the canvas ripping as you drove through.

The next free day we had to take the ambulance to Denbigh to have the sides patched — just canvas, painted khaki over.

One night I was coming home from Denbigh on my own when I saw flashing lights in front of me, and a group of 7 or 8 soldiers with rifles and I thought “my God we’ve been invaded.” I thought they were Germans but they were commandoes on an exercise. And they commandeered the ambulance and me as the drive and told me to drive to and I was told to go to Llanbedr, the small airfield, they would hide in the back and I was told to go through to the guard room and stop: which I did — I wasn’t going to argue with them they’d got guns and they all piled out and took over the guard room

It was a security exercise and from that moment on they tightened up security — not only on that airfield but everywhere.

I said to the officer — “I’m supposed to be on duty at a night shoot” and he said “don’t worry, if you’re in trouble because you’re late I’ll square it with the officer.”

And I felt quite cock-a-hoop because I’d done my bit for security.

'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Genevieve Tudor of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Kay Hutton and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'

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Message 1 - Knickers full of sea water

Posted on: 12 July 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Kay

I very much enjoyed reading your story, it made me smile a few times. I do hope that this is the first of many.

Best wishes,

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