Interview with Margaret Sinclair Longmate

Title

Interview with Margaret Sinclair Longmate

Description

Margaret Longmate from Edinburgh came from a family with long links to the RAF. Her uncle had been in the Flying Corps in the First World War and various other friends and family joined the service during the Second World War. Therefore, it seemed obvious that when it came time Margaret would join the Women's Auxilliary Air Force. She began her training as a wireless mechanic and her first day in London she experienced a V-1 attack. For her twenty first birthday Margaret and three friends had the ultimate celebration feast of poached eggs on toast which made a welcome change from the dried eggs that were otherwise on offer. The cousin to whom she was very close was with Bomber Command. He was killed on his twenty first birthday.

Creator

Date

2016-10-19

Temporal Coverage

Coverage

Language

Type

Format

00:42:44 audio recording

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Identifier

ALongmateMS161019, PLongmatemS1601

Transcription

CJ: So, this is Chris Johnson and I’m interviewing Margaret Longmate today for the International Bomber Command Centre’s Digital Archive. We’re at Margaret’s house in Sandwich and it’s Wednesday the 19th of October 2016. So, thank you for talking to us today Margaret. Could we start the interview perhaps by you explaining your background? Where and when you were born and your family background?
ML: Well, I was born in Edinburgh on the 30th of March 1925. Just very much an Edinburgh girl. I was at school, Girl Guides, Youth Club at St George’s West Church with a marvellous minister there, Dr Black. And, and then after school into the WAAF when I was eighteen. And a large chunk of time, well in the WAAF ‘til 1947. My only connection with the Air Force before that had been my uncle, my mother’s brother, who had been in the Flying Corps, and I believe he had made his age to be older than it was. He was sixteen when he went in, I believe. But anyway, when I was young I used to think that he was quite a hero, Uncle John. But he was in the First War, and he also spent a long time with 603 Squadron in the Second War. But he was a flight sergeant, a chiefy armourer. Anyway, that was the only connection with the RAF when I was a child. And I’m trying very hard to think about things in Edinburgh. I played hockey for the school, and I played for the school FP hockey team. And I always had a love of hockey which went on until I was about fifty when it became golf was [laughs] But I don’t know what else you wanted to know about Edinburgh.
CJ: Well, perhaps you could tell us what you were doing at the start of the war and how that affected you and how later on in the war you, you came to join the WAAFs.
ML: My, my cousin Elma, my mother’s sister’s girl, she was in the WAAF. Joined as an electrician and my, her brother Lawrence volunteered for aircrew. He was, he was very bright career ahead of him as an architect. In fact, he won a scholarship to go and study architecture in Italy for a year. But of course came the war. He volunteered for aircrew and that, that he went in to the, he went into the RAF. And of course now I remember as a schoolgirl I’d been, I’ve got masses of cuttings and I’ve got the names of all the crews in 603 Squadron. The City of Edinburgh Squadron. I’ve still got the books with all the bits about these crews and pilots. And I’ve kept it right up to date to when some of the Memorial Services not very long ago. But I was very interested in them and of course once Lawrence had gone into the RAF. And as a Guide I had two lovely friends who were in the Scouts. One of them went into the RAF and became a bomber pilot, and his brother was a Fleet Air Arm pilot. Sadly both of them went in 1944. One died in a German prisoner of war camp. The bomber one did, and the other one was Fleet Air Arm. He died at an accident or something the same year. So poor Mrs Anderson lost both her sons in the one year. But they were great friends too. I also had a friend of our family called Wilson and oh, family gatherings in those days we all did our own thing. My little sister sang. I always had to recite something by Robert Louis Stevenson, and my cousin Lawrence was a good pianist. A good classical pianist. But he was always being pulled up when he was practicing. His mother would suddenly shout upstairs because there he was playing eight to the bar on the piano. Boogie woogie had just come in so, but he was a very good classical pianist too as well as going to become an architect. So these were all people involved in the Air Force so everything was, everything was interesting. Well, you couldn’t help but be. What they had weeks. I can remember. I can remember a Lancaster bomber being out on Bruntsfield Links, and it was Wings for Victory or something week and everybody was allowed to look at it. And I can remember thinking this huge great plane. But these things struck me but then as I say I went into the WAAF. When it came to eighteen everybody was being called up. Several people had been put on the land and then to munitions and I thought if I’m being called up I would rather go in the RAF because everybody else in the family’s there. So, that’s more or less why I went as a WAAF, and went to Wilmslow in Cheshire. I had never been out of Scotland in my life before then, and things were very limited because you couldn’t, you couldn’t get north of Perth. The whole of the Highlands was shut off to the general public. So I longed to get up to the Hebrides and Skye and these areas that I’d read about in books. But it was many years later before I got up there, in 1948. So, that gave me a hankering to seeing the Highlands again. And so I went to Wilmslow in Cheshire. And it was, well it was an education as I say. I had never been outside Edinburgh. Outside Scotland. And we were a real cross section of, of WAAF from all over the country, and we had this six weeks together. And I met good friends there too. And two of them — one of them went on the same course as me to, to become a wireless mechanic and they were, we were sent to London, to Woolwich. Civilian billets. On the day I arrived in London and went across London in a lorry and then was sent out to this billet. And the family there had an Anderson shelter in the garden and the day I arrived was the first Doodlebug raid. And we used to be in this shelter night after night. It was at Plumstead, and I think the, the family, they were so afraid for their children I think they, they left the house so we had to go to another billet at Eltham. And the week after we went to Eltham our billet was blown up by a Doodlebug, so it was, it was, I don’t know, meant to be. But I used to walk from the top of the Eltham Way right down to the foot of it to get a bus into Woolwich to go to the Woolwich Technical College where we were doing our course. And it was right outside the door of Woolwich Arsenal. And of course, it was the hottest year. One of the hottest years they’d ever had. I wore full WAAF gear. It was trousers and a jacket and a gas mask and a huge bag of books and a tin hat and a collar and tie, and I walked the whole length of Rochester Way they called it down to the bus stop. And I’d never experienced heat like it. I always remember how hot it was. The other thing was that right outside between the Arsenal door and the college was a fruit market and it was usually plums I think and the WAAFs used to go out at lunchtime and buy fruit and we used our tin hats as baskets. We had the plums in our hats. Well, one day the siren went, something went when we were out in the market and a Doodlebug came right down behind the door of Woolwich Arsenal. And I’ve still got a bit of Woolwich Arsenal roof that fell on top of me. And we all dived under the stalls, and when we went back in we were severely admonished by a WAAF officer because we had not had our tin hats on. But they were all full of plums. So that, that was at Woolwich. And also at Woolwich I used to travel up into London. I’ve mentioned this before in some record. I went to what they called the Queensbury Club and they had a concert. It was broadcast on the BBC at night. I think it was Alvar Lidell. But the forces got in free and it was lovely. You sat at little tables. You felt civilised. It wasn’t billets or anything. And they were all different ones coming over from America. Stars at that time. And Bing Crosby was there singing with Anne Shelton. And they come out and said, ‘Before we start this broadcast don’t react to something Bing is going to sing,’ and he said, ‘Because remember this broadcast will be heard all over Europe. There will be other ears listening to this.’ And of course he, he did sing, “I Didn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night.” And of course it was the worst Doodlebug raid of — and he said afterwards it would have given the Germans an idea how bad the raid was if we all sort of maybe roared with laughter or something. But I was impressed with Bing Crosby. He was marvellous. He just came out. He didn’t have a mic. He sat on the edge of the stage and just sang, and his voice was marvellous. I always think ever since then Frank Sinatra didn’t even compare with him [laughs] So, that’s why I like Bing Crosby. Anyway, the raids became so heavy they moved the WAAF out of London to Yatesbury and it was a matter of weeks really there while they decided where on earth to put us for the next bit of the course. But there was a concert at Yatesbury and it was Humphrey Lyttleton and his band, and it was a real jazz concert. And it was on a Sunday. Well, it shows the difference. I phoned home and I said, ‘Mum I’m going to a concert,’ and it was Sunday. And that’s not a thing I used to do back in Edinburgh on a Sunday. But I told them about it because everybody else was going. But that was a huge people, it was a huge camp with all sorts of people in transition really at Yatesbury. Yatesbury to Bolton. In civilian billets there. And that’s when I realised just how bad it was for civilians. I knew it was in Edinburgh with rations. My mum with the ration books and things, but at Bolton it was so cold and so wet and they couldn’t heat the house. The only fire was in the kitchen, and everybody sat around that fire. And there were three WAAFs. One from Yorkshire. Another one from outside Edinburgh and myself. And there was this, a widow and her daughter lived in the house. And you couldn’t, to wash anything, your underwear, you couldn’t get anything dry. There was no means of drying things. I’ve also recorded this before I think. And we had thick lisle stockings. If you washed them you just had to go to the college classes with wet stockings on. And, and at night we used to put our greatcoats and everything we could think of on top of the bed as well because it was so cold. There was no heat in the bedrooms. And if you got a photograph from home if you put it on the wall it had curled up by the morning. I was so cold and wet and these people had to put up with that all the time, with the ration of coal and their food ration. She was very good with the way she looked after us. Was a very strict, real Lancashire lady and but she was, she was very good. They accepted all the WAAFs, and Hazel the other WAAF from Yorkshire, Knaresborough, she was made welcome. But it was very difficult to billet the Londoners. They were, they didn’t want anybody from London. Scots went right away. Yorkshire, yes they were acceptable, but London no, and it was very, very hard for them to billet a Londoner. I don’t know. Anyway, they were, in those days very anti Londoners. But after that spate at Bolton we got to a certain stage when they put us on again to Bishopbriggs in Glasgow. Bishopbriggs was on the outskirts of Glasgow but we were in RAF huts there. But what was so interesting there were the, the airmen who were all Jamaican. All from, from white Irish ancestry with red hair to absolutely what they called hill boys, and they had all volunteered as aircrew. And by the time they came over they weren’t needing the aircrew so much and they put them on wireless mechanic courses, the same as us you see. And I saw then how much the ordinary aircraftmen there resented them and yet they were, they were wonderful. There were lawyers amongst them and others that their people owned a lot of land in Jamaica. They’d all just volunteered to do something for Britain. It was the attitude they were treated in this country. I felt very strongly about it. Even instinctively one of them must have been of Scottish ancestry because his name was Crichton. And I remember getting in touch, writing through to my mum and saying about I could bring him home for a week and mum wasn’t very sure when I said Jamaican. She immediately thought, ‘You shouldn’t be going out with a Jamaican.’ And I said, ‘But mum, he’s not black. He’s not quite white but he’s not — but anyway,’ I said, ‘But he’s a very cultured man.’ But they couldn’t accept that so much in this country, but they all volunteered and came and they were bitterly disappointed about not [pause] they’d volunteered as aircrew. All of them. That was a point I’d forgotten. And then I went from Bishops, Bishopbriggs. I went to Cranwell for the rest of the course. I was at, I was at Cranwell. Cranwell at VE day because there was an all ranks dance. All the dances were all ranks and they were marvellous dances at Cranwell. And they always had a good orchestra, and it was always Glen Miller music they were playing. And they just had the first few bars of, “In the Mood,” and there was a hundred people up on the floor dancing. It was, it was wonderful at Cranwell. And I can remember it was, there was a heatwave there too. Yes. Anyway, I passed out at Cranwell. I got my sparks at Cranwell and became a wireless mechanic, and they posted me from Cranwell to Errol in Perthshire. And they were all Fleet Air Arm pilots. They were all Canadians. And that was — they were charming people. That was the first time I really learned or tried to learn to jive because they all jived, and that was at Errol. And I was only a matter of weeks at Errol when I was posted to Ternhill. And I was there, there quite a while at Ternhill in Shropshire and that’s when I started in the way I liked. I used to, I was out on B Flight most of the time. I was their wireless mechanic. And when the instructors took their planes up beforehand for an air check or a night flying check I would be checking the radio. So I got to know them well and and they were ever so kind. They used to let me land. They were Harvards. We always — and they let me land the Harvard. I always remember landing at ninety miles an hour but, and I used to enjoy going up. I was also wireless mech for Test Flight. There was a Flight Lieutenant Martin there. He was a test pilot and of course he took the planes up after a main plane change or something major. None of the aircrew would go up with him after a main plane change [laughs] Anyway, I would go up with him. So, I would go up and he had a warrant officer on the flight with him who also tested and, and we’d go up and have a dogfight in the clouds with the Harvards, and that was thrilling. I used to enjoy that too. But all these instructors that I went up with on, on night flight training tests, I got them to sign how many hours I’d done. So, I got several hours of landing Harvards. And I’ve got the list of all the, all the pilots that I had. So, that that was very much what I remembered at Ternhill. Also at Ternhill it was my twenty first birthday and with another two WAAFs I cycled, it was about fourteen miles to a place called Calverhall. A lady had a little country tea room and we went there and we had poached egg on toast. We had real eggs, and that was my twenty first birthday celebration because only the aircrew got eggs. We had dried eggs of course, but the fact of finding fresh eggs. So I think that meant more to me than a great big cake that they have nowadays and thousands of pounds worth of party. The three of us just cycled there and had poached egg on toast. That was my twenty first birthday celebration at Ternhill. And then they moved the whole of the 5P AFU they called it from Ternhill to Kirton in Lindsey in Lincolnshire. And there I had a lot of, well at that time, ’46 ’47 a lot of sport. I played a lot of hockey, and there was a Highlander from Islay. Yes. Jock, another wireless mech man. He played shinty of course coming from the Highlands, and they used to have mixed hockey matches. And one day he tackled the ball a la shinty. In hockey you don’t raise it above your shoulders in those days but he swung it right back and caught me between the eyes and I ended up in sick bay. I got knocked out. And my husband to be, my fiancé had been three and a half years in the Far East of course, out in the Cocos Islands and Ceylon, came back on leave and I met him with a black eye as a result of hockey. So, that was, that was Jock MacAuley from the Highlands who did that, but we always played in mixed hockey together. But they had a very good PE sergeant at, at Kirton and he encouraged the hockey and the running and we had a very good — I’ve got the shield still. Our group athletics. We had a little team of four, and we had all the big teams. Scampton. I’m trying to think of all the other ones in Lincolnshire. Had huge big teams of maybe thirty or twenty. And we went, I really honestly can’t remember where it was, whether it was held at Scampton. But we went, our little team we went there and stayed the night and we all went for a little walk round the villages outside. It was nice to see. And all these other big teams were out training. Anyway, the next day when it was the actual group athletics, to cut a long story short our little team of four won. I, I was good on hurdles and running and the four of us were good with the relay. Lynn was excellent on the, the half mile, and the other two did things like throwing the hockey ball and obstacle races and nippy races. They were, we were excellent and all these great big teams from the other camps. So, Lynn and I were picked to go down to Uxbridge again for the Flying Training Command Athletic Team. They had the finals at Uxbridge, and that was, I think early in ‘47. And we ran in that and I can remember running in the relay and I was the last man of our team, and it was such an exciting race. Lynn was always first off. She was an excellent runner. And I kept saying, ‘Don’t drop that baton.’ Anyway, we won our relay and that as a result of that we won the Flying Training Command and they came out with this great big cup and somebody poured champagne in it. And that was the first time in my life I’d tasted champagne. So, that was a very happy memory too. And, of course that’s the memory of going down to Uxbridge for hockey trials for the WAAF team and running with the Flying Training Command Athletic Team. I don’t think I’ve said about that ending up in Piccadilly, at Lyons. Well, we went there for supper on the way back before, before we went back to Kirton Lindsey. And you stayed overnight at the Salvation Army and got the train in the morning. Coming out of Lyons Corner House after our supper, it was winter and of course I had my great coat on and I was buttoning it up and my hat under my arm and just as I came out of the door an RAF military policeman put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Corporal, you’re improperly dressed.’ And it didn’t dawn on me that I hadn’t put my hat on yet. And it was most embarrassing. When I got back to camp I was called before the WAAF officer who asked, ‘What on earth were you doing? I have a report here that you were improperly dressed in Piccadilly after 10 o’clock at night. What were you doing?’ So, I explained and then I was most irate really and I said, ‘Well, it wasn’t, couldn’t possibly have been after 10 o’clock at night because we all had to be signed in at the Salvation Army Hostel by ten, so my signature’s there.’ So, I got off on a technicality. But if I hadn’t remembered that, the Salvation Army, that would have been on my WAAF record which sounded dreadful. And it was because I didn’t have my hat on. So, that was discipline in those days. So that, that was more or less that. And as, as I say we used to go to all the demob parties at the First and Last, which was the pub on the way up from the station to Kirton. Everybody stopped there halfway. Well, if you’d been sitting all the way from London on a kitbag and you were carrying a kit bag up that hill it was very — so people stopped there. So a lot of people have memories of the First and Last. A few, some years ago anyway when, when the landlord was retiring he very kindly gave me this big print that was hanging on the wall there as a memento. So, I’ve still got it hanging here. I had lots of, lots of fun there with all the demob parties where Morag the other wireless mech and I at Kirton used to drink a small glass of cider to last the whole evening while everybody else was getting a bit too merry [laughs] But it was nice to say goodbye to them all then. And that was more or less it. I was demobbed in ’47. My husband didn’t get demobbed ‘til forty — they were kept back out east and of course they were all very bitter about it as you know, they almost mutinied. Lord Mountbatten came out to speak to them and they were all turning their back on him, taking their hats off, doing everything to be put on a charge. He was telling them. They had been out there so long and people who had gone into the RAF with them had been home, demobbed and got jobs. Several of them got jobs in teaching and things like that. They got back and they were still at Wyton and still not demobbed. So they were very, very bitter about it all. These people that had been in Ceylon and the Cocos Islands. They felt very neglected and far from home. And Mountbatten was saying what grand men they were and he was booed. They thought they were going to have a riot on their hands. So, you don’t hear so much of that side. But they were, they were just stuck out there. They’d forgotten about them. But they used to fly. He was a radar mech but their planes flew over Burma and dropped leaflets [laughs] and he used to go with them and heave the leaflets out. But I don’t know. They were out there and they got all these horrible malaria, sprue, all these tropical diseases and they weren’t well. And a lot of them were very unhappy about the fact that the others who had joined with them were demobbed and in jobs back in Britain because they were in the European area. And of course the VE day was one thing but it was VE day. The Japanese war went on a little bit longer. So, that’s what kept them out there. Anyway, that’s all I can think of in that line. And I’ve always kept in touch. I kept in touch with Kirton in Lindsey, with this map group at Kirton Lindsey were very good. They did a lot of research. They’re the ones who told me eventually about the Bomber Command Memorial going up and when I wrote to them about my cousin Lawrence who had been [pause] he had done his initial training in this country. I’ve got all his letters that he wrote me because we were very close in the family, like brother and sister almost, and he always teased me about going into the forces. He was saying, ‘They want real he-men in the forces, not women.’ Joking letters. I’ve still have his fun letters, but he, he loved flying and his first initial training he remembered writing and saying he had flown down the Wye Valley, wasn’t it? What’s the gorge in the Wye? And looking down and thinking how beautiful it was. It was really beautiful from the air. And then I’ve got letters from Canada where he did his further training. And the descriptions there of the heat and the flying and of course by then I think they were in — well I’m trying to remember now. It wasn’t. He started off in a Tiger Moth in this country and then eventually graduated to all the different planes and then eventually to Harvards as everybody does. But America wasn’t in the war then but they went on tour. They got a weeks’ leave and they hitched all the way around America. They got, they got, they were made very welcome and they thoroughly enjoyed it. It was like a geography lesson the letter I got back about that. But he had an exciting time there. And then of course when he came back here they were put, I think to Waddington. The initial one and then sent to Scampton, and Scampton of course had, was having, I don’t know runways laid or something like that and so they moved the squadron over to Dunholme Lodge. And the farm there was made a, and I think it was I’ve got all the history of Dunholme. I’ve got everything about Dunholme Lodge. The farmer there [pause] it’s another long story but anyway Lawrence flew from Dunholme Lodge. And it was his twenty first birthday and he never came back. He flew out to bomb Krefeld in the Ruhr and they never know what happened. It’s no, it was never known. His name’s on the Memorial at Runnymede. And then I heard about the Memorial, the Bomber Command Memorial going up at Canwick. And I got, I was invited to that through being a relation of Lawrence’s and the Andersons and the other. Wilson who used to be at our Christmas parties. He was another one who did three tours of ops and on his very last tour disappeared over the Alps at Italy. He was a navigator so he went too. He was another one I used to remember. So I used to write about a lot of them. So, that was my connection with Bomber Command, but I was in Flying Trainer Command, and of course my husband was in Coastal Command. So, after the Canwick one I heard about Dunholme Lodge. David Gibson whose mother and father were very, belonged to this map group, he’s been one who’s done a lot of research for that and he’s, was very good. Sent me a lot of information which I had about my cousin. But still it was good of him. And he took me down. It took a long time to get up there here, from here, changing trains. It was quite a journey. But anyway he took me out to Dunholme Lodge and I met Mr and Mrs Wicks whose farm it is and it was their father’s farm then and they’re lovely people. And, and the, when I met them I heard, I got a letter later to say that the ’44 Squadron which was the squadron Lawrence was in was having a Memorial Service. They come down and have it on the airfield, what was the airfield, about every two years and would I like to go? So I said, ‘Yes please’, and I got this lovely letter from the farmer and his wife saying would I like to come and stay the weekend with them in their beautiful farmhouse. And they made such a fuss of me. I had a wonderful time. They were lovely people. And this little Memorial is down the end of the farm. I’ve got photographs of it and they’d got little plaques on it with, there are a few, they’d put this little Memorial there. And so I thought well my sister and I thought that we would contribute to have a plaque put on for Lawrence and the crew. And so they got that done just before this Memorial Service. So, I went to see that actually dedicated. So, that was very, very moving but oh I was, I’ve never met such kindly folk. Aye. It was. Anyway, so that wasn’t so very long ago now. About a year ago, but anyway at that time I wasn’t too well and they didn’t realise it but I wasn’t but it was like a holiday. Just being there and made an absolute fuss of. And also they opened the garden of that farm to the National Garden Scheme once a year. They open it, and it was the day, the weekend they were opening for, the day after it was open to the public. And the weather was beautiful. And I went down the night before in the evening after everything had happened and gone. Down to this little Memorial that they’ve got, in the sunset and it was all very moving. And it’s, it’s amazing who’s done it. They’ve got their own VC, 44 Squadron of course. He’s there with his crew on, on that Memorial too. So that was a very moving day and a very lovely memory. I was so glad that at least Lawrence’s name is on that and remembered. I know it’s, I’ve got a photograph of it on, it’s on the little plaque. It’s on the big memorial at Canwick. And but I was so glad I’d been to both but the little one on the farm is special in our family anyway. My sister was very pleased because she couldn’t get down. She’s, she’s permanently in a wheelchair and trouble with her knees and things so I had to write reports to her about it. But that’s more or less up to date [laughs]
CJ: So you were demobbed in 1947.
ML: ’47.
CJ: And your husband.
ML: Was demobbed the beginning of ’48. And we were married in June 1948. And of course his family came from Chiswick. His father and he were members of Kew Cricket Club actually, before they went into the [pause] but so I moved down to live in Chiswick, Gunnersbury Park area really. And our, my daughter Margaret Ann, my elder daughter was born in 1951. Oh I [pause] apart from doing all that I did a lot of Scottish country dancing at Fetter Lane with the Caledonian Society, and of course I joined St Columba’s Church at Knightsbridge. I’m still a member. I must be one of the oldest. I’ve been there since 1948 and I went up every year. Every year for the communion services. And it’s been a real, I don’t know, a haven for me. St Columba’s up in Knightsbridge over the years. And my, both the girls were christened there. Rosemary was born in ’58. She was seven years after Margaret Ann, and she was christened in the London Scottish Chapel which is in St Columba’s and Margaret Ann was, well she thought the world of the minister there. He was another one who was a padre. Decorated. Dropped with the troops and dropped with them and she was very inspired with him. But anyway, she became confirmed at St Columba’s and as I say Rosemary was christened in the London Scottish Chapel. St Columba’s was bombed during the Blitz and was burned to the ground, and they raised the money to build it up again. And we used to go to the Jehangir Hall in the Imperial Institute. Services there, and then they built the lower part, the hall. The underneath bit of the new St Columba’s and the Queen who was the queen mother it was, the Queen Elizabeth then came and she laid the foundation stone and as it built up as I say seven years later. Margaret Ann always said, ‘It’s not fair. Rosemary was christened in the London Scottish Chapel,’ she said, ‘And I was christened in the church house around in Cadogan Square.’ They hadn’t got the church built by then. But very happy memories of St Columba’s and they’ve been very thoughtful with me over these last months. They’ve been up to see me and I took them up to St Bart’s here which is a lovely little pilgrim’s chapel. I go there because it’s nice and quiet and rather peaceful and a little simple service, rather like a Scottish service. And they’ve been over the years. They’ve been very kind too.
CJ: And do you keep in touch with any of your former comrades?
ML: I don’t think there’s any of them alive now.
CJ: No.
ML: I seem to be the only. I seem to be the only one that [pause] especially as I say the WAAF. I think they’re all gone. But I joined the WAAF Association and I joined the Thanet group and they were all lovely ones. I’ve got masses of photographs of things we’ve done with them. But I think there’s one of them I know is still alive which I’m due to phone. She’s in a home in Canterbury, I think. But all the others have either gone over the years or gone to, there was two of them there who were in about 1939. They were wonderful. Kay, who ran the group, she was very good person but they laid up their colours and they’re in the church in, in Ramsgate. And after that just a few who were about used to meet sometimes over in Margate and have some lunch. But that sort of came down to about [pause] came down to about two or three and then of course I was very involved with golf, and it was always a Wednesday and Wednesday was the golf day. So these are the ones I had known but most of the people as I say it’s a matter of anno domini. The years go and I’ve got happy memories of lovely folk but there’s not a lot left.
CJ: Well, thank you very much indeed for talking to us today Margaret.
ML: Yes. I jumped about a bit, but I can’t remember it all in order.
CJ: That’s not a problem. We’ve got it all recorded. Thank you very much indeed.

Citation

Chris Johnson, “Interview with Margaret Sinclair Longmate,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 27, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11290.

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