"Where we were stationed, we looked out the windows, there was pipes sticking out of the ground for miles. And it was an underground ammunition plant where they had 25, 000 women working there during the war, making stuff for the war effort. "
[Working in an armament factory]
The war was on, and the government built a plant next to […] to build Bofors antiaircraft guns. And I got a job there for two years. And then I went in the [Royal] Navy and when I came back from overseas the... It was in August, they called me back to work. Because they needed some help with some of the stuff I had been doing. I assembled hydraulic equipment that went on-, ran the guns. And then I got discharged in November 30th, 1945, and I still worked there for a few months till they closed it down.
But the training we got was fantastic, because I was stationed in Watford, just outside of London, for three or four months, where they taught us how to make items. To take a piece of steel and drill holes and make steps and so on. And do all that kind of work. And they had done a lot of training […] for people during the war. Then we went up for our basic training, in the Midlands. Where we were stationed, we looked out the windows, there was pipes sticking out of the ground for miles. And it was an underground ammunition plant where they had 25, 000 women working there during the war, making stuff for the war effort.
But then after that training I spent three or four months in Northern Ireland. In fact, it was funny, they said for your advanced training here’s all the bases in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Where would you like to go? So my mother’s family being from Ireland – although the South – I couldn’t go down there because I had a uniform, but I went to Northern Ireland in a place called Eglinton. Not too far from one of the naval bases up there. And trained there for about three months. So the schooling was fantastic.
[Serving as a mechanic with a naval squadron of the Royal Navy]
We had Spitfires to work on [the Supermarine Spitfire, a British single-seat fighter aircraft], because at that stage of the war the Spitfire wasn’t used very much because it was only a defensive plane. It didn’t have much range. Well, it was the best fighter they had during the war for a defensive fighter because it would go up to protect the bombers. Or shoot down bombers. But they couldn’t use it long range because it didn’t have much range. Now the North American Mustang [the North American P-51 Mustang, an American single-seat fighter aircraft] that was another good one, because it had a long range. It would go with the bombers over to Germany and that. But I never got a chance to work on those, but I worked on the Spits [Spitfire]. And they had a bunch of them in Scotland.
[Germany flying bombs over England]
Down in Kent where my family, my grandparents, lived, my father was from... I saw some of those things flying over. And I also saw hundreds of bombers going the other way to Germany. Because of the attacks that they were making then. But no, I saw a few... the doodle bugs, as we called them [nickname given to the German V1 and V-2 flying bombs]. And I was down there when I saw the first jet plane that England had developed.