Story 75

Someone I will never forget

I only knew Leonard Cheshire at the early years of his military life but somehow I always felt as if I knew him all my life, and kept in touch with him.

Small posed group of RAF personnel 35 squadron 1941 in front of an aircraft

The funny thing is I did not realise who he was when I first met him. During the war I was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce (WAAF), stationed at Middleton St. George, Co. Durham RAF Bomber Station.

In 1942 I was asked if I would go to No.76 Squadron offices, which were right across the airfield, to help with some secretarial work. I eventually found my way there and a rather dashing Corporal introduced me to this tall officer, who we just called Squadron Leader. He was very kind to me, and explained I was to send letters to all the families of killed and missing airmen from the raids the night before. Not a nice job but you just got on with things. Later I found out the Squadron Leader was Leonard Cheshire.

I was only there for a while, but it was lovely to work with him. In 1943, 76 & 78 Squadrons were moved to Linton-on-Ouse. I kept in touch with the Corporal who had introduced me to Leonard Cheshire, and we got engaged. Leonard was very funny – he sent me a book in which he wrote, ‘hope you keep the Corporal in order’. I still have the book – but I never married the Corporal.

After the war I came back home to Godalming. We then had the Cheshire Home built at Hydon Hill nearby. I visited many times, mostly taking donations to the shop and I also helped to make the Christmas cards to sell. This last few years I have not been able to go out but still like to keep up with all the news. My neighbour’s son was living at Hydon Hill for quite a while.

Leonard Cheshire is someone I will never forget. I have always followed his work and travels. He was a very quiet, kind man.

Leonard Cheshire is someone I will never forget.