Printer Friendly

A top secret role in WI nerve centre.

Byline: Helen Turner

A SOUTH Wales woman was paid a special visit by the First Minister yesterday, when she told him about the key roles played by herself and her colleagues in the fight against Nazi bombers.

Eileen Younghusband from Sully served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force from the age of 19 in the filter rooms of RAF Fighter Command, the secret nerve centres for the defence of Britain in the dark days of the 1939-45 conflict.

The 90-year-old, who recently published her memoir One Woman's War, said: "We were the clearing centre, we were the linchpin of the defence of Britain.

"At Fighter Command we worked incredibly hard tracking enemy aircraft.

"We determined where air raid warnings would be sounded and where rescue boats would be sent to pick up downed Allied airmen.

"It is time the contribution of the women of the filter room, the precursor of today's air traffic control, but without computers, should be recognised."

Eileen, who was posted abroad for a year just five weeks after she got married, showed Carwyn Jones a film detailing the vitally important but untold processes of the filter room.

She said: "Everyone shows pictures of the girls pushing stuff around the end of a long rod.

"All they are doing is showing the end result of all the hard work we did mentally and mathematically in the filter room.

"The First Minister is very, very knowledgeable about World War II. I showed him the filter room film I have here, which was actually taken when I was on duty in the autumn of 1943.

"He was absolutely fascinated."

It wasn't until 1980 that Eileen learned some filter room information came from Germany's secret code machine Enigma, cracked by teams at Bletchley Park.

As well as sending out air raid warnings, filter room officers located Allied pilots in distress, helped launch air-sea rescue and guided coastal gun crews.

On the map table Eileen saw the invasion fleet heading for Normandy on D-Day and received the coded warning of the first V2 rocket as it approached London.

"Of course we signed the Official Secrets Act then for 30 years after the war," she said.

"There are very few of us left now to tell the story.

Eileen, who previously met the First Minister during a national holocaust exhibition, said: "It was the same thing Air Traffic Control does but they have computers - we had to do it mentally and instantly using mathematical ability.

"We were underground in poor conditions, we worked eight-hour shifts with maybe a quarter of an hour's break, that was all."

Mr Jones said: "It was an honour to meet Eileen again today. Her story is an inspiration to us all.

"We must never forget the selflessness, determination and bravery that people like Eileen showed on a daily basis during the Second World War.

"We owe them a huge debt of gratitude."

CAPTION(S):

* Eileen served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force * First Minister Carwyn Jones hears from Eileen Younghusband about her role in RAF Fighter Command during World War II PICTURE: Peter Bolter [umlaut]
COPYRIGHT 2011 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 2, 2011
Words:518
Previous Article:FOOTBALL matches are normally [...].
Next Article:Dogs sniff out illegal drugs in city centre.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters