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- Researcher 244604
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- Contributed on:
- 19 September 2003
My name is Jose but I was known as Jo throughout my service in the WAAF. When I first joined my surname was Starr and then on marriage, Stirling. After the death of my husband I re-married and my name is now O'Mahony. I did my basic training at RAF Bridgenorth in August 1941 and my trade training at No 1 Signals School, RAF Cranwell.
My first posting was at a Fighter Group, RAF Ponteland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. While there a WAAF stationed at HQ Bomber Command applied for an exchange compassionate posting. I volunteered and was then posted to HQBC, but was attached to the US Eighth Bomber Command at High Wycombe, known as RAF Pinetrees or Station 101. Being stationed with the Americans was terrific; not only that, the food was good, I never missed a meal and there was no rationing. We were also allowed to shop at the PX and could buy things which were not available in the NAAFi or civilian shops. As this was HQ every US officer who was assigned arrived, and then was re-assigned to the various bomber groups. We had Clark Gable - without the moustache - although it was regrown later, and James Stewart, who was a dear with same slow drawl (and he liked his tea). Our Intelligence Officer was Captain Gene Raymond, his wife was Jeanette Macdonald.
We were based in Wycombe Abbey school. The message centre (where I worked) was there, and next door was the officers' mess. One evening, there was a special dining-in night for the guest of honour, Churchill. We were allowed to have a peek; he was smoking the usual large cigar. After a while we moved from the Abbey and worked in another part of the camp, this time we were underground. We were there until the WAACs arrived and then we were all posted to other camps. It was a very sad day because it was a great place to be. However when in the services one goes where one is sent.
My next and final posting was RAF Oakington in Cambridgeshire. This camp was the home of No.7 Squadron (Lancasters), a Pathfinder squadron. This squadron was made up of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and South Africans (all air crews). I have to say this camp was exciting and no way could one ever be bored. I think the Aussies (as we called them) were the most boisterous. They had numerous drinking toasts: two I will mention here. I quote: 'Two little pillows trimmed with lace,/ Boy and girl lying face to face,/ Everything in its proper place,/ Hot dog!', and 'A girl lived on a hill,/ She won't do it but her sister will,/ Here's to her sister!' The Aussies and the Kiwis used to have rugby matches and they played that game like you have never seen before: shorts were pulled off during scrums and a general furore happened during the game.
There was a serious side though; so many of the crews didn't return. They were all so young. After they had finished a tour of 'ops' (30), they were automatically awarded the DFM or DFC, and if they opted for a second tour and managed to complete the same (not many did), they were then awarded the DSM or the DSO. There were so many awards to be given that the King, Queen and Princess Elizabeth came to the camp to distribute them. I still have the photographs.
I was demobbed VJ+1 and missed the service life for many years, but then I married my second husband who was a long-serving member of the RAF (27 years). We travelled overseas quite a lot and this added to my host of memories.
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