Veteran Stories:
Patricia Desmond

Air Force

  • Patricia Desmond, during her service in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), circa 1942-1945.

    Patricia Desmond
  • Airwomen of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), circa 1942-1945. Patricia Desmond is on the far right.

    Patricia Desmond
  • Patricia Desmond, Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), circa 1942-1945.

    Patricia Desmond
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"The sound of the bombs falling, “ack-ack” of the guns, searchlights, barrage balloons, so much activity and amid the sound of war."

Transcript

Air force, WAAF [Women’s Auxiliary Air Force], radar. A moment in time. On leave, walking along Piccadilly in London, early evening, Battle of Britain at its height. London docks being fire bombed. The glare of the flames along the skyline. Criss-cross the search lights. The meshing of two beams, a bomber plane held in the glare until it was guided down. New Zealanders, Australians, Americans, Free French, Canadians, West Indians and other allies going their way. The sound of the bombs falling, “ack-ack” of the guns, searchlights, barrage balloons, so much activity and amid the sound of war, was something else, the sound of the piano. The opposite to what was going on, a Polonaise was being played and then other great classics. The pianist was the famous Dame Myra Hess. King George VI made her Dame Commander of the British Empire. Every mid-afternoon, a baby grand was carried into the street from the nearby hotel. Such wonderful music amid the mayhem brought on my tears.
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