Memories of Middle Wallop, 1944.Dorothy Scott (Cpl. Green)
A selection of photos from Dorothy Scott's collection.
Sketch of WAAF Cpl. Dorothy Green (Scott), 1944.Dorothy Scott (Cpl. Green)
"It’s not very nice to be dancing with someone one night and hearing they’re dead the next day."
My name is Dorothy W. Scott, née Green, and I was on March the 19th, 1921. Yes, I was called up in September 1941 and posted to [RAF] Portreath in Cornwall [England], as a clerk SD, working in the ops room, clerk, special duty that was, which meant we had to sign the Official Secrets Act.
Well, we were doing plotting of aircraft, both friendly and hostile. So there wasn’t radar when I first joined up, it was a triangulation system. You had observations stations, you see, about three or four of them. And they all said whatever aircraft or whatever they thought it was and the direction it was in. So we had another table with little strings that you pulled out on that direction from there, and then you guessed, and it really was guessing, from where these things were, where the aircraft actually was. It wasn’t very accurate.
We were in a secret office it was supposed to be then, the ops room. It was an old farmhouse which they had converted. Of course, all the natives knew where it was, and you couldn’t miss the busses going in every shift. (laughs) But this is the theory, that you couldn’t see it.
We actually had one interesting episode from this secret farmhouse. There was a chap came down just off the coast and he had a navigator with him and they got into their dinghy, he managed to roll ashore, and this was in the dark, climbed up the cliff, which nobody had thought of putting any barbed wire underneath because it was unclimbable. His navigator had been slightly wounded and was what we considered very old, he was 35. And so he tied him onto the bottom, climbed up this cliff, actually bursting with adrenaline, collared a native and said, “Where is the nearest air force?” And they said, “Oh, that would be that farm down there,” he said. Got in, came in and pushed through, “I’ve got to rescue my navigator, you see.” So of course, everything was set and they did of course.
And meanwhile, this chap was given some coffee and told to go to bed and they had cots for night duty, sometimes we could have a quiet night if it were pouring rain or something. And in the morning of course, when our shifts came on, this hero was seen, the poor chap he was so embarrassed, the nice little boy, all these admiring WAAFs. (laughs)
Now one of the things I have kind of remembered was that I had a pair of stockings, our issued stockings, they were hideous, grey cotton stockings, quite thick. And we weren’t allowed to exchange them for a new pair until we had 17 darns. And the last two darns were artificial darns. And if you hadn’t darned them nicely, they wouldn’t give them to you. Yeah. Go back, take those darns out and do them again.
See, I was posted after a while to another station in [RAF] Middle Wallop. Well they were getting ready for D-Day then. And because Middle Wallop in Hampshire, which is on the south part of England, along that flat bit near Normandy. By then, the Americans had arrived and our air force station no longer had fighter aircraft in it. So we had absolutely no contact with it. We were actually just sitting there, making contact with, and checking that the Germans weren’t sending reconnaissance planes over, which of course they were. Every single lane and the places, well, they called them roads, but they were B roads, which were just one track wide, you see. But in the hedges, they were all bounded by hedges, and right up against the hedges, all the way along, pretty well, they had put camouflage netting over the trees on each side of the hedges. So these things were invisible from the air. And there were units stationed all the way with their amphibian landing things. And guns and so on and so forth, all that kind of stuff. We were keeping contact with them because they had paratroopers, and there were lots of Canadians there, Canadian paratroopers took the brunt of D-Day alright.
And I remember cycling down, we weren’t allowed to go more than 15 miles and I had a friend who was just within that area, and she asked me to come and stay the night. Of course I was only too anxious. So we weren’t supposed to be sleeping out past that, I sneaked out and I cycled down. And all the way, these kids of course were bored to tears, they’d been sitting and standing there and they had those hand tricks and so on cat calls and wolf calls and boos, shouting and saluting me as I went through. So I was doing this Queen of England stuff, you know, the little sideways wave. And it was really quite amusing.
Once D-Day happened, of course, it was sort of dramatic. They all went, all the aircraft which should have been assembling at various places, the heavy aircraft to carry troops, with the gliders behind and the other went up at once and the whole sky was covered from horizon to horizon with aircraft. And they had their lights on, which of course they never normally did. They had to, otherwise they’d bump into each other. It was very, very loud and the whole earth shook as they went over with all these lights.
But I’ve given you the nicer bits. It’s darned boring in a war. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s boring, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait and tired, tired, tired, tired, tired. And you’re not getting on with your life. And of course, it’s not very nice to be dancing with someone one night and hearing they’re dead the next day.