Veteran Stories:
Kathleen Sheppard

Air Force

  • group of sergeants, Kathleen Sheppard, middle of the row, England, year not mentionned.

    Kathleen Sheppard
  • Kathleen Sheppard's husband Bryan William Sheppard, also in the RAF.

    Kathleen Sheppard
  • Kathleen Sheppard's Women's Auxiliary Air Force cap badge, (WAAF, Royal Air Force).

    Kathleen Sheppard
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"And then he would ring me up and say, don’t go home, I’m coming to dictate some letters and that was about five o’clock in the evening, you know. So, but they had the rank, so they could pull it."

Transcript

I served with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, WAAF, in England. I volunteered to go to the Middle East but before that came through, I got married and they wouldn’t let us go if we were married. Clerk GD [General Duties], that was the trade that they put down for you. I just joined because I wanted to help, you know, help win the war. The fact that I volunteered gave me a chance to more or less pick what I wanted to do at first. And then I got higher and higher in my rank, I became a sergeant. You had to be a sergeant if you were working for a high ranking officer. And mine was the highest but one in the unit. And the Air Vice-Marshal is pretty high. So we did have one Air Marshal which another girl looked after. But we had to think about him during the flying times and he used to fly from one station to another. And then he would ring me up and say, don’t go home, I’m coming to dictate some letters and that was about five o’clock in the evening, you know. So, but they had the rank, so they could pull it. And see, you had to do a lot more work but it was worth it because you were respected. And I got on very well with everybody. I wasn’t one of these naggers, you know. It was great. We had to tow the line of course, because there were lots of officers around and you had to respect them and look after them. And the girls had to do the same thing. You had to, I used to have to take them out on route marches before breakfast, just to get them energetic and doing commands quickly if they were told to do it, because you couldn’t hang around if you thought there was going to be a bomb dropping any minute now, you had to get where you had to go. We used to sing when we were marching and it really started off the day quite nicely. So some of the girls that were conscripted, they didn’t want to be conscripted, they didn’t want to be there and they could be awkward little so-and-so’s, you know. But it’s a bit of a sad story but there was one little girl there and I, don’t know who she was or what her name was or anything like that now. But we used to keep an eye on her and she hadn’t got too much of an idea how to look after herself. So she was going home on leave, so we thought, just to make it easy for her, we’d do her nicely, do her hair all up and make her look beautiful, you know, for her parents. Anyway, we did that and we were so proud of ourselves, what we’d done to her and she went home and the first thing they did was cut her hair, cut her curls off. And she was very upset when she came back. And I can remember when she was on what we used to call jankers -that was punishment, you know, for something she’d done - she was put in the kitchen to do the dishes. And she used to stand at the kitchen door and throw them in the sink. So you either had to go and help her or else tell her to do it properly, you know. We had fairly nice houses to live in. We were lucky in that respect because I don’t know who they belonged to or anything but you know, apparently the Air Force could just go around and say, well, we need that for so many hundred people, you know and you’ll have to move out. But things in wartime were not the same, you know. You can’t be too fussy; you’ve got to all help to come to the right ending. You had to either go into it in the right state of mind or, or you’d be horribly miserable for five years. I mean, what’s, what’s the point in that?
Follow us