Women in radar

Jane Trefusis DBE

In 1916, aged just 17, Katherine Jane Trefusis Forbes left school and volunteered for the Women’s Volunteer Reserve. She was disappointed to be too young to be sent to France.

By 1939, she had become Chief Instructor at the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and by 1939, was responsible for the WAAF.

8,000 volunteers enrolled into the WAAF during the first five weeks of the war – creating problems of supply and accommodation. The welfare, pay and working conditions of the women in her charge were always her priority.

Air Commandant Trefusis Forbes – her rank equivalent to a Brigadier – became frustrated that her views had to be explained to the Air Force Council by a man.

She resigned from direct charge of the WAAF in 1943 to carry out international tours of the allied territories, helping to set up similar women’s forces. In 1944, she was made a Dame.

At the age of 67, she accepted the marriage proposal of Sir Robert Watson Watt.

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Jane Trefusis