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Mother's Day: Two generations of RAF service inspired by one woman



RAF Family

In celebration of Mother's Day, we spoke to one family who have been inspired by the Second World War service of their mother and grandmother. Kath McLeod's RAF career was the first of three generations, in this blog we speak to her daughter and grandson.

Mother's Day

Ninety-eight-year-old Kath served in the WAAF during the war, as a radar operator. Thirty years later, her daughter Ann Havlin also joined and completed six years' service before leaving to have her son James.

Ann, 69, said: "I always knew my mum had been in the RAF as that’s where she met my dad, but she never spoke about it much as they were told to keep it a secret for 50 years. However, from hearing the laughter at their memories when their ex-RAF friends came to visit, I knew they’d had a good time!

"When I found about her involvement in the Second World War, I was really very proud of her. Back then, women were able to take on a lot more – they could deliver Spitfires or work as mechanics – but by the time I joined it seemed like there were less opportunities for us. Thankfully, we've caught up again now."

Despite growing up with a rebel streak, Ann decided to join the Women's Royal Air Force.

She added: "I think my mum was rather shocked when I told her I was joining the RAF. Growing up I was a bit rebellious; I didn't respond well to authority or being told what to do, but I greatly enjoyed my time with the WRAF. Having been inspired by my parents, I was really pleased when I found out James was joining the Royal Air Force too.

"These days, my mum loves to talk about her time in the RAF and she likes to stay connected to her RAF history too."

Last year, Kath featured in the Fund's Battle of Britain 80 campaign aiming to get more veterans back on the radar. A poignant light show was hosted at a former Battle of Britain radar site to pay tribute to the women of the WAAF who worked on radar during the Second World War.

Corporal James Havlin, a logistics supplier at RAF Brize Norton, said: "I joined the RAF quite late at the age of 27. Working in logistics for the past 15 years has given me the opportunity to meet the most challenging organisational goals used to the fore on six tours of Afghanistan, Qatar, UAE and the Falkland Islands.

"It's an honour to follow in my mum and grandma’s footsteps. I'm incredibly proud of my grandma's contribution to the Second World War – without her and her colleagues tracking aircraft and V1 and V2 rockets, the UK would have suffered many more losses, so they certainly helped to achieve victory all those years ago."

The 42-year-old added: "The RAF has changed so much in the 80 years since my grandma joined. But whatever technological advancements that the RAF makes, its personnel remain its most valuable asset."