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  RAF/RCAF Digby : Recollections of an Ops Room Plotter
LACW Marjorie Smith nee Turner

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Updated: 7 Sep 08

The text below is derived from a letter written by the former LACW Marjorie Turner to the Digby Sector Ops Room museum staff in March 1997.

It's a hell of a long time to remember things, but I'll do my best.

I was posted to Digby immediately after my 18th birthday, sometime in Oct/Nov 1941. I cannot remember actually living at Digby, but maybe did so for a short time as I well remember the crews of 92 Squadron and how they used to cut off your tie just below the knot at parties! There were some pretty wild get-togethers at the pub along the road.

I was then sent to Blankney Hall where I lived and worked in the Ops Room there, probably on A Watch.

The NCO i/c my watch was Betty somebody. I was the youngest, and incidentally they all started me on smoking Woodbines when we weren't busy! I'll list below some of the girls I worked with:-

Marjorie Piper
Maeve Ray
Dorothy Heron
Nicki ?
Marion Haste
Jo ? (later commissioned)
Bunty Tweedie
Sylvia ?

It wasn't long before they sent me to Coleby Grange where I worked on the airfield in Flying Control. My WAAF Officer was Betty Nettleton (her husband was at Waddington) and I lived in WAAF quarters at Coleby Hall. There were two Canadian squadrons (409 and 410 - Beaufighters and Mosquitos). The CO was Paul Davoud, and I mostly worked with a Flying Control Officer called Tom Brundage. Names of Canadian air-crew I remember:-

Benny Brooks & Bill Moseley (crashed over Lincoln)
Bud Green
'Windy' Reed
Ronnie Hedger
Jerry Martin

I cannot actually remember a plotting table at Coleby Grange as I did all my duties in the Watch Tower talking to aircraft over R/T. There did not appear to be any actual plotting there as we probably received instructions from Blankney - I wish I could remember more!

At Blankney we received our instructions at the plotting table through head-phones which no doubt came from the various sources i.e. Observer Corps. We would place markers on the table as appropriate and sometimes the came through so fast, it wasn't easy to keep up, but we did! What exactly the duties of Ops A and B were, I can't recall, but everything we did on the table was closely watched by the Controller, and sometimes there was an Army presence along with the air-crew.

It is very difficult for me to remember with clarity, as in early 1943 I was posted to Coastal Command in Plymouth, then Scotland and finally India and Ceylon. Different stations and events have a habit of merging in the memory, but I do know that I hated leaving Coleby and Fighter Command.

I was on duty the night the German plane crashed on the airfield {note - 15 Jan 1943, crew of five all died and are buried in the Scopwick War Graves}. It was my first experience of the horror of was and it happened right before our eyes. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I passed out under the table, the first and only time in my life! Evidently they just left me there until the flap was over. I woke up lying on the bed in the Controller's rest room and felt very ashamed, but the Controller himself was very understanding, and also highly amused!

I took photographs at the time of the German graves and also Benny Brooks grave. When I went back a few years ago I photographed them again. Unfortunately I lost my album of friends at Digby, Blankney and Coleby during a move, so unlike Fred Turned I can't supply you with any photographs that will help jog a few memories.

The three large pictures you sent I can't recognise but the plan of the Ops Room looks pretty much as I remember it at Blankney. I could have wept when I saw the ruins a few years ago. A woman in the village told me a WAAF had started the fire by leaving her iron on - I assured her it wasn't me! {note - this is indeed not the case, the true story was revealed at the Digby 90th Anniversary celebrations on 28 Mar 2008}.

location of RAF Digbyin relation to Lincolnshire - click here for full-size map showing all station locations

Digby Squadrons

Blankney

Ashby de la Launde

Scopwick War Graves

Sector Ops Room Museum

Digby crashes

Digby Oral Histories:


Digby - A History
" A history 1917 - 1978"
Foreword
Introduction
1917
1918
Inter-War Years
1919
1920
1922-23
1924
1925
1926

1927-1929
1930-1932
1933
1934-1936
1937
1938
World War II

1939
1939-1940
1941
Jan - Aug 1942
Sep 1942 - 1944
1945
Return to Training
1945 - Jan 1948
Feb - Mar 1948
Mar 1948 - 1953
A cadet remembers
The Signals Era
Jan 1955 - Dec 1961
Dec 1963 - 1978
Curent Day

1955 - the Signals Era


Digby Ops Room Museum
A brief history on Airops website

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