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15 October 2014
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My Service Life, by a WAAF

by Northumberland County Libraries

Contributed by 
Northumberland County Libraries
People in story: 
Betty Hildow (Laws)
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
14 May 2004

From Betty Hildow, Wooler, Northumberland

My service life started January 1st 1943 catching the 6.30 train towards Gloucester.

I did a flight mechanics course at Hednesford. This station was well away from a town. We had to walk up a very steep hill and were pleased to see a cinema on camp when we reached the top.

Then I went on to Eshott to work on the flights.

The Flight Sergeant didn’t know what to do with me as I was the only WAFF, so there was an older man ( a regular) who we called ‘daddy’- I was put under him to learn the ropes. I learned a lot from him. We used to march along the main roads with a band sometimes for church parade. If the wind changed during the night we were called out to turn the aeroplanes into the wind and tie them down (and it was sometimes very cold!).

We were billeted at the top of the hill and had to stoke and fill an old fashioned boiler to enable us to wash in hot water. We were moved nearer the road later on in case we were snowed in — that was near the officers — a wire fence was erected, we never knew who was to be kept out or in. We also got blamed for missing plugs in the baths. Only mechanics could do this — a penny was always carried for this purpose.

I then took a ‘letters’ course at Holton(?) where we had mice in the lockers after the food that had been sent from home. We bought a trap, and with cheese from the kitchen caught six mice. No-one would take them out of the traps except me. The next morning a pile of dead mice lay in the garden — we were three storeys up.

It was then back to Eshott where I hitched a lift to Morpeth sitting on a lot of empty milk bottles — very uncomfortable. Then on to Milfield from where we moved lock stock and barrel by rail to Tangmere(?) in Sussex. This was a good station near the town and we were billeted in married quarters, this being a peace time station. Christmas day was a day when we had our dinner served by the officers.

I then moved to Massingham in Norfolk where we were on the out skirts of a village which had three large ponds in the centre. We had an S.P. who loved to put you on a charge so he was dumped in a pond one dark night. We had a nice old vicar and old church that we used.

If you were interested in sport as I was you were allowed time off. Joan and I (she had a car at Massingham) used to skive off to Kings Lynn for the practice afternoon. This was a base you could get in and out of without much bother — if you knew how. The Americans had the base before us, and left behind all manner of things — chests of drawers, bedside cabinets, tools etc, and we helped ourselves and things were dispatched home by rail which was handy. I still have the tools.

I went back to Hednesford for de-mob, June 1946. (AC1 473957 LAWS)

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Message 1 - My service life, by a WAFF

Posted on: 14 May 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Betty

I very much enjoyed reading your story ... and about your escapades :)

Kind regards


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Women's Auxiliary Air Force Category
Tyneside and Northumberland Category
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