Veteran Stories:
Winifred Ivy “Gracie” Field

Army

  • Winifred Field's Discharge Certificate issued in December 1944.

    Winifred Field
  • Winifred Field in uniform during war years.

    Winifred Field
  • Winifred and Clifford Field with niece in Trafalgar Square, London, on August 19, 1944.

    Winifred Field
  • Winifred Field's Soldier's Service and Pay Book issued during the war.

    Winifred Field
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"you’ve never seen anything as beautiful because, as getting a, an airplane or a plane caught in a series of searchlights. Because you’re like this, like this and they, it’s just like a web, like a spider’s web. And he’s in there and he’s not going to get away."

Transcript

It was either hospital, munitions or army. We weren’t conscripted but there wasn’t much going on. And there was a lot of added, for drivers. And I thought, oh yeah, I’d love to drive a car. I could see myself driving the generals and all that. I wasn’t tall enough. You had to be five-foot-four and I was five-foot-one and a half. So anyway, of course I’d signed up, so I had to go somewhere. So I said, army I guess. And so that’s how come. And it was good really. Like my mom and dad said, well, if this is what you want, because I think I was 17 and you were supposed to be 18 but I think I was 17.

But oh, the first day that we joined and we went to camp, they gave us three shots of needles and we were on banks and you never saw so many sick women or girls in all your life. It was terrible. We had three shots, one was for rabies I think, I don’t know what they were for, but we were sick. And it was the Royal Artillery; we [the women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service] were auxiliary to them and it was a fighting force. Because you had like, it was a static camp and it was ringed with five or six big - well - they look like pea shooters now - but then they were big guns, they were 3.7 or 4.5 [inches in calibre], which was a big field gun. And there was five or six of them. And then in the middle, you’d have your guns coming all the way around like this and then in the middle, you had your Predictor [machine used to target anti-aircraft guns] and then you had your Pathfinder [radar beacon] here and then your weather there and I don’t remember what there was here. But when we got, like the word that there was a plane, of course we ran to the site and the Pathfinder picked it up, the weather gave us what it [the meteorological situation] was like, you know, 25,000 up, and then that was relayed through great big cables to the Predictor and we matched the things and then it went to the guns. So and then, and when you heard six of those go off, I’m telling you, it was ear time.

On the predictor, actually, we were shielded by a short wall and then we were - I don’t know how true it was - but we were supposed to have been brought down, I think it was a Dornier 17 [German bomber aircraft]. And like and I did an interview, I did a cooking show in Toronto with -because my daughter lives there -and the interview, it was asking about the war and so I said to him [the host], I said, well, you’ve never seen anything as beautiful because, as getting a, an airplane or a plane caught in a series of searchlights. Because you’re like this, like this and they, it’s just like a web, like a spider’s web. And he’s in there and he’s not going to get away. And of course, everybody’s aiming at it. And he’s, now remember [David Gale], the interviewer, he said to me, what did you feel? Did you feel sorry for him? And I said, why the hell should I? I said, he’d been bombing the hell out of us. This was recently though and this wasn’t during the war. I said, why should I, I said, he was bombing the hell out of us. I said, so it was our time to get him. Otherwise, he’d have bombed some more.

The way we looked at it was, you couldn’t afford to feel sorry, because I think it was some of the dislike and that, that kept you going. I’m not going to let him do this, I won’t let him get the better of me and all the rest of it, so.

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