March 2023


Today marks the beginning of WAAFWednesday.   Every Wednesday in March, we’ll share some stories of women who lived and worked at RAF Bawdsey, starting with Peggy Haynes (was Butler).  We love sharing her story and were lucky to hear her memories too.


Peggy joined the WAAF in May 1942 aged 18 after working for a publishing company in London during the Blitz.  She was a radar operator at RAF Bawdsey, tasked with interpreting the cathode ray tube to work out the number and distance of enemy aircraft heading towards Britain.

Peggy was at Bawdsey on VE Day May 1945. Her memories: “We couldn’t find out what was happening – nobody seemed to know on May 8th 1945 that anything had happened at all.  We were listening on night watch and we were tuning into German stations and they were making me listen because I knew a few words of German, but I couldn’t hear anything – just ordinary conversation and it wasn’t until we got back into the manor that we were told ‘Yes the war is over’.

So it wasn’t very celebratory really, because by the time, of course, we were well in with the boys from Martlesham – and what were we celebrating? – you know – OK we had stopped fighting but they were going off to the Pacific to fight the war.

We were all confined to camp for some reason – which we didn’t take very kindly to – but by the evening the Americans had managed to muster up a lot of beer and they came over in their trucks and we did have a dance – because we did have a dance every week in the Manor ballroom which was very nice – and so we did celebrate to some degree.”

More stories from Peggy and many of the other women and men who lived and worked at RAF Bawdsey can be heard in the museum which reopens on April 2nd.  More information can be found on our visit page.


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