Veteran Stories:
Joy Loveridge (née Hicks)

Air Force

  • Photo of Sergeant Joy Loveridge, Women's Auxiliary Air Force, taken at RAF Andover, Hampshire, England, 1941.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge, second from right, and other Women's Auxiliary Air Force women putting on a can-can dance show to boost morale at their RAF fighter station.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge, front, left row, as part of an honour guard. Betty, the woman getting married to an army caption, lost her first husband when his plane was shot down. Sadly her marriage to the army captain was also cut short as he was killed 6 months after their wedding.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge's discharge from the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, 10 February 1943.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge and her husband Doug Loveridge, a navigator in the RCAF.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge outside a hut where she lived as a private in the Canadian Women's Army Corps, Dundurn, Saskatchewan, 1944

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge and her brother Ivor outside their family home in England. At the time this picture was taken, Joy Loveridge had joined the Canadian Women's Army Corps and had returned to England. Her brother had been wounded in France, serving with the British Army.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge's pay book from her time in the Canadian Women's Army Corps.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Joy Loveridge's discharge certificate from the Canadian Women's Army Corps.

    Joy Loveridge
  • Lieutenant Joy Loveridge (first row, far left) and Royal Canadian Air Cadets, 259 Squadron, taken at Canadian Forces Base Kamloops, British Columbia, May 1982.

    Joy Loveridge
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"And when I went to the door and was greeted by her and taken in and sat down and she produced a tray of tea and biscuits, I knew something was wrong. She told me that my husband and crew were missing and had not returned from their 29th trip over Germany. I was devastated completely and cried all night."

Transcript

My birthday is the 27th of August and I had saved my parcel from home so that I could open it that day.  It sat by my bed.  However, on the 26th of August, on hearing the [air raid] siren and thinking it was another practice, I was just locking the filing cabinet when bombs started dropping.  I ran like mad out of headquarters to the nearest shelter and slivered in.  Someone pulled me in, actually.  That afternoon a great number of bombs were dropped.

After this raid our WAAF commanding officer gathered us together to a sort of grass hill on the camp, where we sat in a state of shock.  I asked one of the soldiers who was clearing up some debris around the married quarters, which were being used by the RAF,* if he would look out for my birthday parcel.  Miraculously, he did find a flattened, battered parcel and I was able to pull out a thin silk housecoat, torn and in a bit of a state.  But the rest of the contents were completely ruined.  Little did we know that this was just the beginning of many more raids to come.

Our pilots were constantly involved in dogfights now and were becoming absolutely exhausted.  New young pilots, 19 years old with only 10 hours training, were not a match for the experienced Luftwaffe.**  One of our pilots, only 19 years old, managed to bail out of his aircraft.  But during his descent he was machine gunned by enemy pilots.  He was dead when he hit the ground.  This cruel act enraged us all, especially the pilots.

It seemed that every day there was a funeral.  The band would lead, playing slow funeral march, followed by the coffin, and the commanding officer and members of the squadron would follow.  We would go out of headquarters and stand to attention as the procession passed.  The impact of this left a very sad imprint on all of us.  As the coffin passed by and I was standing to attention, I found it increasingly difficult to hold back the tears, especially when I had on occasion only spoken to the pilot the day before.

I went to Wales as an ACW, Aircraftwoman, and came out as a corporal and was posted to Magdalen College in Oxford.***  From Oxford I was sent to Cheltenham [Gloucestershire, England] and then as a sergeant I was posted to Andover [Hampshire, England] where I met my husband who was an RCF navigator – RCAF I should say – navigator in Andover.

He was waiting to be sent back to Canada to have back surgery in Christie Street Hospital [Toronto].  Before he left for Canada to have the operation we were married.  And in March 1943 I arrived in Halifax, Canada and after my husband had his surgery on his back he became an instructor at London, Ontario and eventually was posted back to England to continue his navigator duties on bombers.

Meanwhile, I was left behind in Canada.  And although I was happy and living with Doug’s family, somehow I felt completely lost.  So one day while I was part of the recruiting office in Saskatoon [Saskatchewan], I decided to join the CWAC.  I joined up in Regina [Saskatchewan] and was sent to Kitchener [Ontario] for basic training.

After basic training I was sent to Dundurn in Saskatchewan.  I met some wonderful Canadian girls and became a Canadian instantly.  After six months’ service in Dundurn I was told that I would be posted to England.

On the 5th of March, 1945 it was my mom and dad’s wedding anniversary and they arranged to meet me at a restaurant in London.  We had a very nice time together and I waved goodbye to them at the Underground station and returned to the large house where I was stationed, where we were billeted.

When I arrived, the girls said that our commanding officer wanted to see me.  We all felt it was very strange.  And when I went to the door and was greeted by her and taken in and sat down and she produced a tray of tea and biscuits, I knew something was wrong.  She told me that my husband and crew were missing and had not returned from their 29th trip over Germany.  I was devastated completely and cried all night.

After weeks and no news our hopes were dwindling, especially when V-E Day arrived on the 8th of May and still no news.  A couple of days after V-E Day, I got a call, a message from an RCAF officer saying that he had seen Doug and the crew on a march in Germany.  I was so terribly excited and got in touch with all the mothers of the crew, sent them telegrams when this news came through.

And then I got a call from Doug, phoning me from an RAF station in Tangmere, Sussex [England] to say that they were all safe and they had all been on a very hazardous march.  He and the crew were soon on their way back to Canada, and I followed on a troop ship a couple of months later, working in the office on the boat, which was called the [SS] Ile de France.

Finally, I arrived in Regina where I was discharged and was reunited with my husband Doug.  We lived in Saskatoon and then Penticton, B.C., raising three boys and one girl.  Once more I was in uniform when I became Adjutant of 259 Squadron Air Cadets Penticton for 10 years.

*Royal Air Force

**German air force

***University of Oxford, England

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