*****A teen-age girl survives World War II *****
Terry Smith was a teenager attending art school in a London suburb when World War II began.
Before it was over, her family would be bombed out of three homes, her fiancé would be killed fighting Rommel’s forces in North Africa, and she would join the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). She was stationed in the Operations Rooms on seven RAF (Royal Air Force) bases, including Speke, Northolt, Uxbridge, Tangmere, Blackgang (Isle of Wight), Ford, and Norfolk.
During the war she encountered RAF legends Douglas Bader and Leonard Cheshire as well as the indomitable Winston Churchill. Her memories of life on RAF bases from the perspective of a WAAF provides a unique window into this great conflict. Her work with “the big secret” (radar), early in the war was something she couldn’t even discuss with family.
In this memoir, Terry Smith recounts life in England leading up to the war, her six years of service during the war, and life in a recovering England in which she served as a BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) hostess on proving flights to Africa --where former German POWs still serviced BOAC planes two years after the war -- and the Far East. She ran into glass ceilings that stymied advancement in the WAAF and for women in general, with the BOAC, and with the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). In many ways her recollections are those of most women of the WWII era: death, destruction, working for their war effort and surviving.
An American flyer, Harold Carver, who billeted with her family was shot down and sent to Stalag Luft 1. Sixty years later, Terry Smith and that pilot would be reunited in America. A grand gift in memories, yes, but not the end of the story.