The girls celebrate VJ Day.
|WAAF=Women's Auxiliary Air Force. MT=Motor Transport. NAAFI=Navy Army & Air Force Institute. ACW2=Aircraftwoman 2nd Class. CO=Commanding Officer.|
I was not expecting this. I’m in trouble again. “Am I to be charged, Ma’am?”
“You do not answer a question with a question. I repeat, explain to me how you think your two friends got into the building?”
“I thought that because they were booked in at the guardroom there was no need to book them in here.”
“Don’t take me for a fool, Godsalve. I’ll answer the question for you. You let your two friends from the MT section in and didn’t put them in the book in case they got in trouble. Is that not right?”
“It is right, Ma’am and I am really sorry if I let you down.”
“You didn’t let me down; you let yourself down. They know the procedure because I can see they have been put in the book before. Did they ask you not to put their names in the book?”
“No, Ma’am, they don’t even know. They think I booked them.” I don’t like telling lies to the Section Officer. I know she has supported me a few times and I am sure she had words with the Station Commander about not reducing my rank to AC2.
“I don’t know what to do with you, Godsalve. Sometimes I see you as the perfect image of a WAAF and a good example to encourage new WAAF recruits. Other times you seem to be the opposite. Can you assure me that this sort of thing will not happen again?”
“Yes, Ma’am, I will be the perfect image of a WAAF.”
“Do you see what I mean? Do you realise that you have just been insolent?”
“I didn’t mean to be insolent. It’s just that I was so glad to hear those kind words from you that I just had to repeat them.”
The section officer laughed. “Oh, Elsie.”
First the sergeant and now the Section Officer has called me by my first name. It seems a bit weird. “Will the two girls be charged, Ma’am?” I don’t think I’d get away with it if I responded in kind and called her, Marion.
“There you go again, worrying about other people. I will overlook it this time. If it happens again you will be in serious trouble. It is after all a breach of security and the C.O will find it more serious than punching a nasty airman on the nose.”
She went off to go about her business. It was a domestic evening in the block and all the girls were cleaning and polishing ready for the inspection. Some of the girls escaped the chores by being on late duty and I also escaped by having to man the admin desk, but I had to show that I was bulling the office though.
The inspection went very well, as it usually did. But I thought it a bit strange that the Section Officer was accompanied by a Squadron Leader. I didn’t realise that men were allowed in the block.
I reported to the control office the next morning.
The sergeant looked over. “There is an army Auster landing in about twenty minutes get out with the tractor to pull it into the maintenance hangar.”
“Do you not want me to drive the crew bus, sergeant?”
“No, one of the lads can do that. You can drive the tractor can’t you? You have driven it before?”
“Yes, a few times.” It was a few times as well. The lads here didn’t like the WAAF’s driving the tractor. It was a, so called, man’s job. But I could drive the tractor as well as any of them.
“Off you go then, Godsalve.”
It’s Godsalve again. Elsie didn’t last long I thought.
The Auster landed. Some airmen from the hangar attached it and I pulled it safely into the hanger. As I was leaving the hanger I noticed Colin hurrying over.
“I’m glad I caught you.” he said. “What Mark did to Kathy was out of order and I just want you to know that I thought he was wrong. It was him that made her pregnant. I know that for a fact.”
“Oh, did you? Well it is a pity that you didn’t speak up at the time and not wait until after he was posted.”
“I can see you are annoyed and you have a right to be. But can we still be friends?”
“No, we bloody well can’t,” I said and drove off. I looked at my watch. That goods train will be passing soon. There is a good chance that Bobby will be on it. If I wave to him he might realise that I can’t leave camp. I’m sure he will understand. Instead of going back to the depot I made my way to the fence by the railway line and waited. I heard the train before I saw it and it soon came into view. I was both nervous and excited and dearly wanted to see him. The crew blew the train whistle as it approached the station and went thundering through, but it was not Bobby. Disappointed I made my way back to the yard. When I parked up the sergeant walked over.
“The Station Warrant Officer has been on and wants to know why a tractor was parked-up over by the railway line.”
“I was watching the trains go by.”
“Oh, that’s as good an excuse as any, I suppose,” he said. “But I won’t tell him that. I’ll tell him you had broken down.”
I looked at him as he walked off. He is so different now from when I first arrived here, even from a few weeks ago. I liked the difference, I liked the difference very much.
VJ day arrived and I was still on WAAF admin. There was a huge party going on over in the NAAFI and I was greatly disappointed that I could not go. The Section Officer walked in and she was looking very smart in her best uniform. Leave the doors open until twelve o’clock tonight. The NAAFI bar is to shut at eleven but I am sure there will be some hangers on. If any airmen try to get in don’t confront them but telephone the guardroom straight away. If you want me I’ll be in the Officer’s Mess. Have a good night, Godsalve,” she said.
Have a good night, I thought. Have a good night, is she taking the piss?
As the night went on I could hear the music far away in the NAAFI. I carried on reading my book. It seemed as if I were the only one left in the block.
Girls started trickling in at about eleven o’clock. The girls from MT, and there is now four of us, came in partly drunk and singing a Vera Lynn song. They came into the office and put a plate of sandwiches and cake on the desk along with a glass filled with gin and tonic. Off they trotted to the room. At twelve o’clock I closed the outside doors but most of the girls were in by now. Those that were not in were probably up to no good and would not get back before morning. I sat back in the office listening to the parties that were going on throughout the block.
At half past twelve the young ACW2, Mary Houseman, who was duty WAAF when I arrived here, came into the room. “I’ve had enough for tonight,” she said. “I’ll cover for you in the office. I’m sorry I’m a bit late. The Section Officer told me to relieve you at midnight. You get up and join the celebration.”
She didn’t have to tell me twice. I hurried off thinking, the Section Officer is not so bad after all.
Friday morning, I finished my punishment. No more WAAF admin duties for me. MT drivers didn’t do it normally. It was pretty quiet in the section and after work I set off into Chester. I didn’t know what shift Bobby would be on but I had decided to call round anyway. I was hoping he would be in but if he wasn’t, I could leave a message with his landlady.
I got to the street where he lived and my excitement was rising as I got nearer to the house. I was missing Bobby so much. I walked in and hurried up the stairs, knocked on the door and opened it which meant that he was in.
“Go away, George,” Bobby shouted from the bedroom followed by a girl’s voice.
“Idiot, didn’t you lock the door?” the girl said.
I looked in the bedroom. Annette was on top of Bobby and her skirt was up around her waist showing all her bare bottom. It was obvious what was going on.
“Elsie!” Bobby called out.
I turned and ran out to the street and began running along the pavement. I ran and ran and didn’t know where I was going, I just ran. I ran across a road and tripped on the kerb falling flat across the pavement and onto some gravel. I struggled to my feet. My knees were grazed and my lip was split and I had soil on my face. I checked my pockets for a handkerchief to stop the flow of blood down my chin but I hadn’t brought one. I was crying and a woman hurried over.
“Dear, dear,” she said. “Don’t cry. I know your mouth hurts but we can soon sort you out.” She passed a handkerchief. “It is clean,” she said.
“I’m not crying because of the fall. I just caught my boyfriend having intercourse with another girl.” I could see that my words had shocked the woman. “I’m sorry.” I said.
“No need to apologise.”
I could feel my nose starting to run but being with the woman seemed to calm me a little and the tears stopped.
“I only live round the next street. Come on let’s go and get you cleaned up.”
I looked around and didn’t know where I was. I had never been in this part of the city before. We walked to the next street. The woman’s house was a large detached house and she took me in and sat me on a dining room chair.
“Right,” she said. “Let’s get this blood cleaned off and the dirt from your face.” She got a clean handkerchief to replace the other one. Good the lip has all but stopped bleeding. See, we’ll soon have you sorted. Better brush and sponge your uniform down. You can’t go back to the aerodrome looking like that, I know.
“Thank you,” I said. “You are so kind.”
“You are very welcome. My two boys are in the forces and we must all pull together when we can.”
I saw two photo frames on the mantelpiece. “Is that your two boys?” I asked.
“Yes, and now the war is over I hope they will be coming home soon.” The woman walked out and came back with a brush and a sponge. “Stand up,” she said. “Let try and get you looking fit for a parade.” The woman cleaned and brushed my uniform, rubbed some antiseptic on my grazed knees, and took the handkerchief from my lip. “There it’s stopped bleeding. It is a bit swollen though.”
“I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for me.”
The woman just smiled. She walked over to the mantelpiece and brought one of the frames over. “This is my eldest son, Billy. He’s in the navy somewhere at sea. Now that the war is over maybe I’ll find out where. Handsome isn’t he?”
“Very,” I said.
She went and got the other frame. “This is my, Tommy, he is my baby. He’s in the Royal Engineers and he’s only across in Liverpool so I see him quite a lot.”
I looked at the photograph and gasped as I tried to catch my breath. “Tom!”