Veteran Stories:
Kathleen Griffith

Army

  • A photograph of Kathleen Griffith in June 1942.

    Kathleen Griffith
  • Kathleen Griffith and her husband in December 1944.

    Kathleen Griffith
  • Kathleen Griffith (left) at a Remembrance Day ceremony.

    Kathleen Griffith
  • Kathleen Griffith and her Canadian husband on their wedding day on April 30th, 1943. Griffith had to wait until after the war before she could rejoin her husband in Canada.

    Kathleen Griffith
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"The Pay Corps, we looked good, we didn’t look worn by the war, we looked as if we could really fight the Germans. "

Transcript

So here we were in Bradford [England] where I was born and brought up, and I was called up, but they said you have a choice and I thought I'd like to be a nurse, being that it’s romantic and you know Florence Nightingale, being shot as a spy you know how you are as a kid. Well of course I was too small and too frail to become a nurse, I weighed less than 100 pounds and under five feet, just under…so they gave me a choice of going in the services of munitions, well I don’t think I could have gone down the mines like the boys did, the Bevin boys, but I thought I'd like to go in the Pay Corps because I thought well after the war I will have something to come back to, because you always need money and you always need accountants.

So I joined the Pay Corps in 1942, from then I didn’t get out until after the war was over, and during that time we would do different things like go on Saturdays on marches in affluent districts in Yorkshire, or around where we were stationed perhaps in Leicester and ahead of us there would be the boys from Australia, Canada you name it, and then they’d have girls, and who would they put out marching who looked good and fresh and what have you, and spotless uniforms, even all our buttons shone which were made of brass, and that was a lot of work. And your shoes shone but the Pay Corps, we looked good, we didn’t look worn by the war, we looked as if we could really fight the Germans.

Don’t forget there was not lights, when the war broke out I was 15, you know my age is not till December so when it broke out I would be say 14 okay, and so your parents didn’t let you out alone at that age in England no, no, in the nights it's very you know, you only go out at weekends at that’s only to church and you know what have you, maybe a movie. And so all you see is darkness, from being that age I've never known street lights or we had flash lights to go to the movies, and once I went into the movie I think it was something like Dorian Gray at Sundown movie, and the ending was the story if you know what I mean you know led you up to this thing. It was a mystery anyway, so they came on and they said there is an air raid warning out now you can leave the theatre quietly, do not use flash lights leaving the theatre because it will reflect up to the aeroplanes coming over and they are dropping bombs.

And they figured if it was a very foggy night and figured the Germans were lost, so if they saw the lights downstairs they’d drop their bombs, well I left the theatre I thought I'd better get home to my parents and make sure they're okay even if we die, we die together, or maybe I can be of some help with the neighbours with the kids. Then the all clear came and I wasn’t even home, I thought I better get back there and see the end of that movie, and I got back and I saw the end of the movie, so that to me I remember it, not just because of the movie, but how stupid could I get to go back there.

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