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Wings Over Wick
lsobel Harvey, Newcastle Upon Tyne
I joined the WAAF on May 6 1941 (voluntarily) and was sent to Harrogate to do my square bashing i.e. drilling etc for 2 weeks. During this time we were threatened with a posting to Wick if we did not turn out smartly each day, that is buttons sparkling and shoes. A friend and myself did exactly this but were absolutely shattered when we were both posted to Wick, a week apart.
Arriving at Wick feeling really miserable (I was only 18 yrs old coming up to 19 on the 28 May) and very, very homesick, thinking I'd arrived at the North Pole. I shed several tears for a few days and gradually settled down.
I was billeted in one of the houses which I believe used to be called married quarters on the camp, quite comfortable. When any of us had a date with a boy we always used to arrange to meet him outside the RAF canteen as we were able to see from our bedroom window whether they had turned up or not.
My trade was a clerk special duties, which entailed my working in the operations room at the station. This was underground and I found it very humid to work in. It was very interesting work as this was the hub of all operations. We met most of the aircrews when they came to the ops room for briefing before taking off on whatever sortie they were scheduled for.
Part of my duties in the ops room was recording messages in long hand (I had no shorthand knowledge), between our Station Group Captain and the Controller at 18 Group Headquarters. Sometimes on the scrambler phone if they were discussing a bombing sortie which included number of planes, time to take off, time on target, bomb load, time off target and time of return etc. The heartbreak was discovering that a few failed to return and especially if some of them I had had personal feelings for.
I can't really recall a lot about the town of Wick, the Breadalbane Cinema I often frequented with various boyfriends, mostly aircrew! We used to go to dances to a place called Castletown, which I think, was one of our satellites. I also remember walking along the cliff tops, finding it very bracing. My memories of Wick remain very pleasant as I really did enjoy my time there when I finally settled down. I was there for 18 months, leaving in Nov 1942 when I was posted to the other end of the country to Plymouth.