Veteran Stories:
Arlene Stockdale

Air Force

  • Arlene Stockdale (pictured right) with friends while showing off a scarf she had embroidered for her future-husband, Alec.

    Arlene Stockdale
  • Arlene Stockdale's Service and Release/Pay Book from her time in the Royal Air Force between 1940 and 1945.

    Arlene Stockdale
  • Proof of employment documents from the Canadian Forces Hospitality and Information Service which she received upon her demobilization from the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

    Arlene Stockdale
  • Arlene Stockdale's passport which she used to return back to Canada via Denmark, Sweden and the United Sates in 1946.

    Arlene Stockdale
  • A 1946 confirmation of employment letter from Canada House, part of the Canadian High Commission in London.

    Arlene Stockdale
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"Our first stop was a small house where my warden noticed something I didn’t. At the time, I wasn’t sure what we were looking for. There was no panic and to my amazement, he knocked politely on the door and said, excuse me, but there’s an incendiary on your roof."

Transcript

I was in England when London was bombed and that made me join the Air Force. I have been posted to Pembroke Dock back in Wales [United Kingdom]. I never heard of it and information is scarce. However, the day I have to arrive and travel, documents are at the orderly office, I have been classed as AC2 [Aircraftwoman 2nd Class, lowest on the ladder climbs the parapet. I don’t know where that name comes from but I don’t ask questions. After a long and tedious journey, through beautiful country. I came, I arrived and literally quite scared. Pembroke Dock is quite a hilly town and to my amazement, showing quite a lot of bomb damage. I was picked up by an Air Force lorry [transport vehicle] but had a non-talkative driver. So still don’t know anything of anything. I was dumped at the station orderly room. Fortunately, I’m told where they are and where to report. Quarters are really primitive, with no sign of aircraft or hangars but lots of airmen around. It was two days before I found out it was a sea plane base, for Sunderland flying boats and airliners. It was bombed nightly by the Germans, trying to find the base. Pembroke Dock eventually became the largest flying boat base in the world. The nightly bombings destroyed at least 200 homes and the WAAF [Women’s Auxilliary Air Force] quarters. We eventually were billeted at Tenby [England], which entailed catching a Liberty boat [a mass produced cargo ship] at various times during the evening and catching a return one at dawn. There were bomb shelters on the base but I like many had a horror of going underground. If you declined the shelter, you were obliged to volunteer to go with the air raid warden. If there was under an alert at the time, there were lots of incendiaries [a weapon designed to start fires] being dropped. My first night on patrol was with a very English Englishman. We set out with our buckets of sand and shovels. He in plus fours [a type short-legged pant], tweed jacket with leather patches, cap and pipe, whistling at his lorry. Our first stop was a small house where my warden noticed something I didn’t. At the time, I wasn’t sure what we were looking for. There was no panic and to my amazement, he knocked politely on the door and said, excuse me, but there’s an incendiary on your roof. I don’t think so, said the man. We trundled up the stairs, with buckets and shovel, and put out a small fire with much gratitude from said owner.
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