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Joan's War

by CSV Solent

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Archive List > United Kingdom > London

Contributed by 
CSV Solent
People in story: 
Joan Smith
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Shelagh on behalf of Joan and has been added to the site with her permission. Joan fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

Joan’s Story

I joined the WAAF in 1942 when I was seventeen and a half. The WAAF uniform was issued. We were given shirts, skirts which had to touch the floor when we were kneeling, underwear called twilights which were pale blue knickers and blackouts which were navy blue knickers well elasticated at the waist and legs! I remember the Lyle stockings made my legs look fat so I got a more sheer pair of stockings to wear. I was reported and put on a charge.
I was in Eastbourne and attached to an officers’ training unit. The air force men wore white flashes in their caps. Our duties were from 9 — 5.30 and we then marched back to the hotel we were billeted in. My hotel was on the sea front. I used to go for a swim in the pool, eat in the dining room and then dance the night away. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I remember marching back along the front to the hotel when a German plane flew along the front and machined gunned us. The girl in front had a bullet through her wrist; I don’t think I appreciated how close we had been to death.

I had tripped and hurt my ankle and was in the hospital with a pot (plaster) on it, which I had been told not to break. I had a room that looked out to sea. Aircraft came shooting and I remember thinking that I might get shot if I stayed in the bed, but if I went under it, I might break my pot. By the time the nurse and I had decided I’d stay in bed the aircraft had gone!

I was a bit of a rebel and enjoyed my War. I remember being invited to a dance in the officer’s Mess, I shouldn’t have gone as I was not an officer, but I borrowed a dress and went. I was found out and put on a charge. I had to report to the sergeant in the morning. I was told to scrub a particular area, I said, ‘I don’t scrub; I don’t know how to!’
To my delight the sergeant got down on her knees and showed me how to scrub so I had less to scrub as a result!

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