For Joan Fraser, a WAAF veteran from London, Princess Marina House is a place to remember and relax. In this guest blog she describes her wartime service and what it means to her to share those experiences with new friends at the RAF Benevolent Fund’s seaside care home.
I decided to join up in 1944, when I was 17 years old. I went in with some trepidation and I thought if they give me the cookhouse I won’t be able to refuse, I did not want to do all that, and they said we will give you clerical so anything like teleprinter and switchboard and all the different types of codes.
I started work at the Air Ministry and then transferred to Bletchley in Buckinghamshire. I was taken to a hut in a field, I was the only occupant until the following day so I chose a bed and a metal cupboard in the middle of the hut. I was quite nervous, being on my own in a field! It was called Morley Towers – huts with chimneys!
The next day 16 girls from all over Britain arrived. We all became friends. I was in charge of clean collars, collecting them daily and sending them to the Chinese laundry. It was an effort to collect the money from the girls as we only had £2 and 8 shillings per week.
I started going to Princess Marina House when I stopped dancing because I got an injury to my back. I started going there and it is wonderful. It is on the beach and it is really peaceful. My daughter is happy that I am being looked after because she lives miles away on a farm. I time my visits for when she is away on her holidays.
I was surprised there was a place like that for retired RAF personnel. The carers are wonderful and the staff are wonderful. We have trips out too, they take us to Chichester, Arandul Castle, Worthing. The coach picks you up and drops you off. It is really good for people, I have even made some friends with some of the people who live in the area.
And to top it all the chef is a wizard! He produces some magical food which I always enjoy.