Veteran Stories:
Isobel Quartly

Air Force

  • Corporal Isobel Quartly, August 1940.

    Isobel Quartly
  • Sergeant Isobel Quartly, July 1942.

    Isobel Quartly
  • Group of WAAF, January 1940. Isobel is top left corner.

    Isobel Quartly
  • Corporal Isobel Quartly, August 1940.

    Isobel Quartly
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It was just the excitement of young people saying we should be doing something, you know. And that was when I went with two friends to Edinburgh and the two friends dropped out. I was the only one who signed and joined, November the 13th, 1939. And then I had to go home and wait to be called. I can’t remember the date but it was October some time when I was called to Edinburgh and there, we were transported to [Royal Air Force Station] Lossiemouth, which is in the north of Scotland, Morayshire. And we were billeted in private homes. We had no uniforms in those days. We didn’t get our uniforms until January. When we arrived there, we were put, we were told where to go and I was put out in a BK box [Nissen hut] they call it, on the edge of the aerodrome and I was timekeeping on airplanes. The RAF [Royal Air Force] station was called 15 FTS, which is Flying Training School. And all these young men were being trained to fly. And I had to keep all the paperwork, get them to sign and say how much petrol was in the plane and all that had to be documented, as well as the trainer, the instructor. And I had a wonderful time making a lot of tea and coffee for a lot of nice young men. And in January, we had an officer come around and say that he would like us to volunteer because they were taking all the men out of the different messes. And would we volunteer to go in and replace them. And I said, no, I’m perfectly happy where I am, only to find out that everybody else had said no, they were perfectly happy where they were. So what they did was they came around and they took us all out. And they said, you’re going here, there and everywhere. And I was a few months in the Sergeants’ Mess, very unhappy for about 24 hours only. And then of course, the old story, you enjoyed what you did. And I was there until, I can’t remember the exact date, I think it was July, something like that, I went on a course, because I had put in for that, an administrative course, to Innsworth Lane, in Gloucestershire in England. And after being trained as an administrator, I came back as a corporal administrator. Very lowly corporal administrator. And after that, they sent me on another course a few months later as a gas instructor. And I went down to Rolleston Lane in Salisbury Plain. After that, I was posted to RAF Elgin, which is a satellite of Lossiemouth. By the way, I forgot to mention that after the Lossiemouth was at 15 FTS Flying Training School to start with and then it became 20 OTU, [Operational Training Unit] which was an Operational Bomber Command, number 20 OTU . So that was just shortly after that. From RAF Elgin, oh, I got married. And then I was posted to, about a year after that, I was posted down to Fazakerley in Liverpool, which was not an aerodrome but it was a place where they collected all the parts for planes and sent them overseas. But we still had all the usual duties to do in the offices. And then I got demobbed [demobilised] in 1945, the end of July 1945. And by that time, I was pregnant. My husband had managed to get home from Germany where he was with [No.] 123 Wing [RAF] in Germany. After the war, they were sent out there. In Lossiemouth, when I was actually in the Sergeants’ Mess waiting as a waitress, we had a large, tremendous bang, three bangs in fact, one after the other, only to find out there was three German airplanes came over, small planes came over and bombed the aerodrome. The first bomb actually brought down the third German plane and the body of the German was taken to the medical centre and everybody was weeping over this German because in his pockets, he had a photograph of himself and his wife and children, one child. So everybody was upset about that. We lost various friends. I lost one of my very special dancing partners, he was killed. And my brother [James] was killed. And age 19, from Thirsk in England. Yes. That’s it. My father was also in the army overseas and my brother was in India in the, he was a captain in the Black Watch [Royal Highland Regiment] in India.
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