Veteran Stories:
Jeanne Bistany (née Hamilton)

  • Jeanne Bistany & family
  • Jeanne Bistany on her wedding day

    Jeanne Bistany & Family
  • Jeanne Bistany joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in June 1942

    Jeanne Bistany & family
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"The signal came through that day it had landed at Dieppe, and it wasn’t going too good, that was all. "


I used to have to walk to work and there was a lot of gas tanks burning where the bombs had dropped. One of those bombs that they used to send, that used to come down – I don’t know what you call it now – it used to come down with a parachute, you know. And one went over past our house in the next block and then they issued the people in London with what they call Nissen Hut, and you had to dig a hole in the ground in your garden. My uncle and my father did that and they put the Nissen Hut together, and they used to go in those, in it from 6 o’clock at night to 6:30 in the morning.

I happened to be home one weekend from the service and my mother said sirens had gone off. She said we had to go out in the garden. I said: “Okay, that woman is showing off.” My father had set it up, he’d made beds alongside of it inside, and we stayed there till 6:30 in the morning.

I left school, I was 14 years old, and went out to work for a real estate agent people and [inaudible 00:01:24] as a typist. And then the war came along and I was at the age where at the age of 18 I would be called up to go to war. So rather than do that I joined up in the June, and I was able to get into a job that I really wanted to do and that was signals. I was transferred to, or posted as you might say, to a station. I learned some of the signals that were coming through but by Christmas time at the war there we were all posted when we passed the course.

We went to a place that had – how can I say – it looked like a little shack. It didn’t anything in the field that it was in. It was, like I say, like a shack but when you went in there, it was a little bit bigger and we had an elevator in this place and we went down underground. We’re supposed to be 167 feet down, and this is where all the steno typists were mostly.

There was two different places there in this natural tunnel and it was well-equipped with everything that we needed to send signals out, all types of signals, and also to monitor the big switchboard which sent some of the signals through to the American stations as well. We had a machine that used to type that when you typed up you pushed a certain button and you put the tape in and it sent – you also watched the switchboard at the same time. The station that you punched the key and then you put the tape in and the plugs where you had on the switchboard at the different stations you had to send the signal too.

You just tap the type and it started off and that signal was going to all these different stations in the country. The signal always came through early morning, if I remember rightly. The signal came through that day it had landed at Dieppe, and it wasn’t going too good, that was all. That message went to the flight lieutenant I think and from then on it went to the [inaudible 00:04:16]. That’s all I know because it’s marked ‘secret special’, so I don’t know where it went really, to be truthful.

As far as I knew that was the only that came in but then again time was still going on so there must have been other signals following that, I’m sure.


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