WAAF WEDNESDAYS – 3
Gwen Arnold (was Reading) Radar Operator
For today’s instalment of WAAF Wednesday, we are sharing the story of Gwen Arnold (was Reading).
Gwen was posted to RAF Bawdsey in 1943, following intensive training in radio detection finding (RDF). At Bawdsey she stayed in room number 54 in the White Tower – there was a single bed and 5 double bunk beds. After 5 months at Bawdsey, Gwen took more exams and because of her high scores, was promoted from Aircraft Woman 2nd class (ACW2) to Leading Aircraft Woman (LACW).
Gwen remembered RAF Bawdsey fondly and wrote a book called ‘Radar Days’ which is full of detail of her life as a WAAF and her time at the site. She remembered the excitement and tension of following aircraft as they fought in the sky:
‘The work at Bawdsey was both exciting and interesting, there being plenty of enemy activity over East Anglia. Our ‘sets’ could see nearly 200 miles across the North Sea…we continue to plot everything the area, but watching particularly the track of the hostile plane as it intermingled with that of our fighter, until the moment came when the echoes were actually beating together’
Following the end of the war Gwen was sent to Fighter Command HQ, Bentley Priory in Uxbridge to serve out the rest of her time before being released from the Air Force as an orderly room clerk, something she felt this was boring compared to her time as a radar operator!
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