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15 October 2014
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Pauline Rice -evacuee to W.R.N.Sicon for Recommended story

by shropshirelibraries

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Background to story: 
Royal Navy
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Contributed on: 
22 August 2005

Just about fo fit the Radar into the Mozzie before I do a flight test at Culham . That's me on the righthand side of the plarform. All the other trades are also doing their pre-flight tests.

Part One

On 2 September 1939 my brother, sister and I were mustered at my school at 8.00am, carrying gas masks and haversacks with a change of clothes. We were marched to Paddington Station — with various parents following behind — and put on a train. The doors were locked and off we went, to arrive 8 hours later at Camborne in Cornwall — tired, thirsty and dishevelled. There we had to be allocated to a billet. As we were 3 we had to wait and wait for a volunteer to have us. It was 10.00pm before we had anything to eat and, more important, to drink, but our host and hostess were most kind and we were happy with them. Unfortunately, the local school was not really suitable for our extra numbers so all of us were moved to a new school in Torquay, Devon. Once again we had to undergo the ‘cattle treatment’ and this time my sister was separated from us. Fortunately my young brother — only 7 — was able to accompany me and my sister visited often and, once again, we were happy with our lot. Our hostess was young and our host was called up for the RAF as an air gunner shortly after we arrived in March 1940. In 1941 he was posted missing and, just before I left school and returned to London, the sad news came that he had been buried in Holland, so he never did get to see the son he’d been hoping for.

Part Two

After leaving school I worked for local government until I was 18 and expecting to be called up for service. I volunteered for the WRNS. After 6 weeks square bashing I was designated to be a radio mechanic and started my training by learning the theory of radio at Walthamstow Technical College. My remembrance of that time is fire watching with my wee stirrup pump on the roof of the wrenery and watching the first doodle bugs fly over — dumbfounded and helpless — and seeing thousands of army types march past on their way to the coast for the invasion. It was a sad sight to me, but they seemed cheerful enough.

After the theory came the practical at HMS Ariel, which I enjoyed much more, especially the time in the workshop. Towards the end of the course I had to spend some time in hospital, so when I returned to Ariel my class of wrens had moved on and I finished up in a class of sailors. All great fellows who accepted me very easily. They made me front marker when marching to class, so we gradually widened the gap between us and the next class, which always fooled the duty officer and caused many a shout from him. Training finished, I was posted to RNAS Drem. When this was closed I found myself back at Ariel doing another course on the newest radar. Then came a posting to Burscough where I was made up to Petty Officer, enjoying the privileges of that roll. After a year came my last posting to RNAS Culham where I found myself in charge of 2 site radar — but mine not to reason why! This was a particularly happy time and when my demob came in 1947 I missed the life and the company, especially the following year when I was confined to bed with a back injury, which is when I missed contacts. So, if anyone recognises themselves in the photo, or knows of someone, please do let me know.

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