Interview with Betty Repton


Interview with Betty Repton


Betty (nee Jackson) worked in a library in Macclesfield before the war. When the war broke out, she went to Manchester to volunteer for the Air Force and trained as a telephonist. She did a course at Sheffield General Post Office before being posted to RAF Bridgnorth for training and then to 16 Maintenance Unit at RAF Stafford. Following training as a Teleprinter Operator at RAF Blackbrook she re-mustered and was posted to RAF Cranwell. She was released for three months to look after her ailing mother and was called back to the RAF in December 1944, being posted to RAF Scampton and later to RAF Syerston and then RAF Coningsby, where she stayed until being demobbed. When at RAF Scampton she was billeted in Nissen huts at RAF Dunholme Lodge. She handled Bomber Command intelligence report messages whenever a crew returned and met Guy Gibson. Betty met her husband Stan, a civilian General Post Office engineer, when being stationed at RAF Coningsby. Betty remembered a RAF officer who had a cloth embroidered with names of staff, but it had since been lost. When Betty and Stan married, they lived at RAF Woodhall Spa. Betty said she had loved every minute of her time in the RAF.




Temporal Coverage




00:37:08 audio recording


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AReptonB180306, PReptonB1801


EM: Just talk in a minute. Stop worrying.
DK: I’ll just, I’ll just introduce this. David Kavanagh for the International Bomber Command Centre.
BR: Just interrupting. Have you —
DK: Don’t worry. Yeah. That’s ok. Don’t worry.
BR: Have you seen many elderly ladies like me?
DK: Yes. Yes. Three.
BR: Three.
DK: You’re my third.
BR: Oh.
DK: You’re my third. So, yes.
BR: And are they all with it?
DK: Oh, yes. Yes. Just like yourself.
BR: Oh yes. Yes. Just like yourself.
EM: Just like you.
DK: Now —
EM: Just keep quiet a minute.
DK: That’s ok.
EM: He’s just doing a bit of recording.
DK: Sorry.
EM: Just be quiet a minute. Yeah.
DK: So I’m interviewing, Betty Repton isn’t it?
EM: Yeah.
DK: Betty Repton, at her home, don’t worry about this, the 6th of March 2018. If I just, can I just move this over?
EM: Yeah. Do you want a maiden name?
DK: Yes. Could do.
EM: Jackson.
DK: Oh. So, that’s Betty Jackson [pause] That looks alright. Yeah.
EM: Ignore that.
DK: Ignore that. Pretend, pretend it’s not there. If I, if I lean over it’s just making sure it’s still working. So, so first of all can I ask you what you were doing immediately before the war?
BR: What was I doing?
EM: Before the war.
BR: I worked in a library.
DK: Ok.
BR: In Macclesfield. It was called a chain library and it was for the north west.
DK: Right.
BR: And that’s all I did.
DK: Ok.
BR: Until the war broke out and it so happened that I was engaged to a gentleman and his parents bought him a shop.
DK: Right.
BR: And they asked me if I would leave and look after it for his twenty first birthday. And in that time he was called up for would it be the militia?
DK: Yes. Yeah.
BR: I’m not quite sure.
DK: Yeah.
BR: To do training because he was called up in the Army.
DK: Right.
BR: And it so happened that I wanted to join the forces. A volunteer.
DK: Ok.
BR: And my brother was in the Navy and my other brother was in the Army so my mother said, ‘I’d like you to go in the WAAF. Then I’ve got one of you in each.’
DK: Each of the services.
BR: And I wrote to Eric, his name and told him I was going to join the forces. And he wrote back and said, “No girl of his was going in the forces.”
DK: Oh right.
BR: So that was the end of that. And so I just applied to join up and I went to Manchester to see a WAAF officer. And she gave me a test and I had to do handwriting.
DK: Right.
BR: And she said, ‘You’re a beautiful writer and you’ve a very good speaking voice.’
DK: Well, you still have.
BR: ‘What do you want to do?’ I said, ‘I’ll do, I want a job that, such as a telephonist.’
DK: Right.
BR: She said, ‘That would be ideal for you,’ and so I was put down to go on a course at Sheffield GPO.
DK: Right.
BR: To be a telephonist when they called me up. And, and then once I’d passed that I was just [pause] I’ve forgotten the word —
DK: Posted.
BR: Yes. To, well I was in the WAAF.
DK: Right. Ok. Ok.
BR: And I had to go to Bridgnorth.
DK: Right.
BR: And get my training done there and then the place that I first went to was 16 MU at Stafford.
DK: A Maintenance Unit. 16 Maintenance Unit.
BR: Maintenance Unit there.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And I was there and then gradually I went to various places.
DK: Right.
BR: And I ended up at a place called Winstanley Hall.
DK: Right.
BR: Near Wigan. And it was a private residence but it was very beautiful and the place that we had to travel each day was on the East Lancs’ Road and they called it RAF Blackbrook but it was underground.
DK: Oh right.
BR: And it was a switching centre.
DK: Yeah.
BR: For teleprinter operators.
DK: Right.
BR: But while I was at Stafford there were so many operators. Telephone operators.
DK: Yeah.
BR: That I never got a chance to get on the switchboard. There were so many.
DK: Yeah.
BR: So I used to sit there in the traffic office and if a message came through on the teleprinter we would get up and go and receive it and put your initials.
DK: Right.
BR: And I got so used to doing that that I thought I’d like to be a teleprinter operator. So I re-mustered and got a posting to Cranwell.
DK: Right.
BR: Where I did the teleprint. I couldn’t type at all. But everything worked out perfect.
DK: So the fact you couldn’t type —
BR: Yes.
DK: Wasn’t a problem.
BR: And so I got posted to this Winstanley Hall.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And, but during [pause]
DK: That’s ok.
BR: During this time my mother was taken ill.
DK: Right.
BR: And I had two sisters that had got children and I was the only single one. So I had to, to ask if I could be released to look after my mum which I did for three months. And in that time if she died within that time I was to be called up straightaway. And she died in the November and they called me back December. At the end of December. 1st of January 1944.
DK: Right.
BR: Because she died in 1943.
DK: Ok.
BR: And so I got posted to Scampton. That was the first posting after being released.
DK: Right.
BR: And that’s it. Scampton it was.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And it so happened that the Dambusters were operating there but they’d already been on the raid.
DK: Yes. Because that was —
BR: To the dams.
DK: That was 1943.
BR: So I was just one.
DK: Right.
BR: Of the WAAF, ordinary WAAF just doing a job at Scampton.
DK: And, and, and what was —
BR: And that’s —
DK: And what was your role at Scampton? Were you still on the teleprinters?
BR: What was that?
EM: Were you still a teleprinter operator?
BR: Yes.
EM: At Scampton.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And I stayed to be a teleprinter operator all the time.
DK: Right.
BR: At Scampton. And then I got a posting to Syerston.
DK: Right.
BR: And from Syerston I got another posting. This was within two years of each to Coningsby.
DK: Right.
BR: And that’s where I stayed until I was released from the services to go to, and get my discharge.
DK: Did, did you get to meet any of the aircrew at all?
BR: Did I?
EM: Tell, tell David while you were teleprinter operating at Scampton who, who came through the, who you handed the messages to.
BR: We handed them in. It was all to do with the flying.
DK: Right.
BR: And every time the kites took off there was a message. When they came back they was all debriefed and they put a message together and they called them a BCIR Report. Bomber Command Intelligence Report. So therefore you had to be in the section to type these messages that you plugged in to the stations around —
DK: Right.
BR: When they came back off of a raid. And they just, that was it. And it just, it was all the same.
DK: So you did this every time they went for, on a raid.
BR: Yes.
DK: And then when they came back?
BR: Yes. they went into debrief too, and I suppose the pilots told their own story because some came back and some didn’t. But they always sent a message whenever an aeroplane went off.
DK: Right.
BR: There was a message with the names of the pilot and the crew.
DK: Ok.
BR: To say they’d returned. Then they put this message together and it went to all the 5 Group.
DK: Right.
BR: Places.
DK: So eventually would, the messages would have got to headquarters here then.
BR: That was what?
EM: Where would the, would the messages have come to St Vincent’s and that? Where did the messages go? Just to the —
BR: I don’t know. I think St Vincent’s had something to do with the raid.
DK: Right. Ok. The planning.
BR: It was before I ever got. I didn’t get to the beginning of the Dambusters.
DK: No. No.
BR: To see them. It took place I think in May.
DK: Yeah. May ’43.
BR: And I didn’t get there ‘til December.
DK: Yeah.
BR: But then they, I think the Dambuster pilots and that were stationed at Petwood Hotel.
DK: That’s right. That’s correct. Yes.
BR: And I got married and I went to live at Woodhall Spa.
DK: Oh right. That’s a lovely village.
BR: And so of course I don’t know if you’ve seen the monument.
DK: Yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
BR: Yeah. And I was there all the time it was being built.
DK: Oh right.
BR: So —
EM: Yeah, but —
BR: And —
EM: You’ve missed the bit about who you, you handed your bit of paper at Scampton to who did you hand your bit of paper to at Scampton?
BR: Oh, well —
EM: Guy Gibson.
BR: I just reported to the guardroom.
DK: Right. Ok.
BR: You know.
DK: Yeah.
BR: I just, I had to report.
DK: Right.
BR: To RAF Scampton.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And everything you did you had to sign in.
DK: Yeah.
BR: At the guardroom.
DK: Can you remember anybody you met there at Scampton?
BR: I met Guy Gibson.
DK: Ok.
BR: He used to walk past the window of the teleprinter room.
DK: Right.
BR: And go into the ops room. Now, the ops room was another room attached to the teleprinter off, but you wouldn’t have known that. But there was a window and if there was a message came through that had to be going to the ops —
DK: Yeah.
BR: You just knocked on the little window. It was wooden.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And it was forced back.
DK: Right.
BR: And who should take the message but Guy Gibson. Because I’d seen him walk past.
DK: Yeah. But he didn’t speak to you then.
BR: No.
DK: No. Oh.
BR: No. No. You just handed the message and that was it. But I saw him pass and I think he’d got the dog and then it was killed.
DK: Yeah.
BR: But I don’t know if it was killed in the time I was there.
DK: I think it would have been before.
BR: Which I think it probably was. And from that it was just routine. Every day the same. I just went on duty.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And off duty and that was it.
DK: Where did you used to go off duty? Was there anywhere you went?
BR: What was that, Elaine?
EM: When you were Scampton where did you live? Where did you, what did you used to do when you were off duty?
BR: We were billeted at Dunholme.
DK: Right. Yeah. I know.
BR: Across the road, down in to Dunholme village.
DK: I know.
BR: And there were Nissen huts.
DK: Right.
BR: And we stayed in those until I got a posting to Syerston. Then got to Syerston and we were in a block. I don’t know if it was G block.
DK: Yeah.
BR: I think they called it.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And —
DK: Did you, did you get on well with your other WAAFs?
BR: Yes. Made some wonderful friends.
DK: Ok.
BR: And little things happened. I sent a BCIR report, Bomber Command Intelligence Report this particular day and it was very long and the flight sergeant in Scampton office said, ‘Betty, if you can send this report without making three mistakes you will get your corporal badges.’ And I said to him, ‘Flight, I don’t want promotion. I don’t like giving orders.’ But now, you see, oh I think I was stupid but I’d just been a country girl.
DK: Yeah.
BR: Lived in a village and I don’t like giving orders to other, to other WAAFs.
DK: Did, did you used to watch the aircraft take off?
BR: No.
DK: On the raids.
BR: No.
DK: No.
BR: No. I was either on duty, and when we weren’t on duty we were down at Dunholme.
DK: Right.
BR: That was the billet.
DK: So you never really saw the activity on the airfields then.
BR: No. So, I was trying to think of something that I did at 16 MU.
EM: She’s got some nice photographs.
BR: Oh, the first time, it was the first posting I had, and another WAAF and I were going into Stafford. So you had to go to the guard room and report and sign.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And the WAAF officer there, well it was corporal, her name was Corporal Blood. Which I shall never forget.
DK: What a great name.
BR: And she said to me, ‘And which bus did you drive?’ I said, ‘I beg your pardon, corporal?’ She said, ‘Which bus did you drive?’ And I was flabbergasted. And she whipped my hat off and she plonked it on straight and she said, ‘That is how you wear your hat.’ Not —
DK: Oh. Like that. Yeah.
BR: Not at an angle.
DK: Like a bus driver. Yeah.
BR: And so I always remember her name and what she said.
DK: Yeah.
EM: I wonder if she’s still about.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And then she said, ‘Get off.’
DK: Oh dear.
BR: And that was the first, I thought I’ve got to be careful.
DK: I’ll tell you what shall I just pause it there? Shall I? Shall I just stop. Thanks.
[recording paused]
DK: Ok. Carry on.
BR: When I was at Woodhall Spa a WAAF had bought a cloth a yard wide.
DK: Yeah.
BR: It was plain. And she got people to sign it.
DK: Right.
BR: And she ran up to me for some reason and she said, ‘Betty, would you sign my cloth?’ So, I said, ‘I’d be delighted to,’ but it was my maiden name obviously and she embroidered my name on it and all the others that she asked.
DK: Right.
BR: The local reporter for the Horncastle News said could anybody, could they issue any information as to how that came about because the girl had lost it.
DK: Right.
BR: And it was found behind a cupboard at Coningsby. One of these metal containers that —
DK: Yeah.
BR: You know further in. And they’d found the cloth at the back. So she never took it home.
DK: Do you know what year they found it?
BR: And funnily enough does that prove?
EM: Yeah. What it was.
BR: It was the girl’s.
DK: Oh, here we go. 1986?
EM: Yeah.
DK: Yeah. 1986.
EM: And then they’ve lost it again.
DK: Oh.
BR: And so that —
DK: Oh no.
BR: I took that photograph of the girls and I phoned. Bill Skelton his name was and he said, I said —
EM: Horncastle News.
DK: Yeah.
BR: ‘I think I can help you with the cloth.’ He says, ‘Never.’ I said, ‘I can because my name’s on it.’ So he came to see me.
DK: Right. So —
BR: And it was put in the paper. Then a few years after.
DK: So you’re on that then.
BR: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
EM: Here it is all about the cloth.
DK: Right.
EM: And they’ve lost the cloth again.
DK: So where was it last seen then? At Coningsby?
EM: Coningsby.
BR: So that’s Coningsby. My last station.
DK: Right.
BR: And there are the girls there. And the girl that did it was this one.
DK: Ok. Can you remember their name?
BR: That’s Wendy Taylor.
DK: Wendy Taylor.
BR: So, Mr Skelton that was, he wrote a bit about the paper and said they’d found —
DK: Right.
BR: But it disappeared again and a WAAF officer wrote the next part of it.
DK: Right.
BR: Is it there?
DK: There’s a new museum at Coningsby. I wonder —
EM: We’ve been.
DK: Oh right.
EM: We went a week last Monday.
DK: Ok.
EM: And she mentioned the cloth.
DK: And they’ve got no —
EM: No. They’ve lost, and they lost it and we mentioned it didn’t we?
BR: Yeah.
DK: What a shame.
EM: And I think her name was Donna who’s there now. And she’s going to see if she can find it. But that is, that’s history.
DK: Oh sure. Yeah.
EM: And it’s a fabulous story.
DK: Yeah.
EM: They found in 1986.
DK: ’86. And lost it again.
EM: But she’s going to try to find it again. Probably through social media. You know, this is how you’re going to have to get it out there.
DK: Well, what I can do is if I, if you can send me a copy of this I can put it on the IBCC’s Facebook page.
EM: Yeah.
DK: And see if that brings out any information.
EM: Well, the thing for me to do then —
DK: Yeah.
EM: If I scanned that and that.
DK: Scanned that and that.
BR: That’s the next letter —
EM: There look.
BR: That came.
DK: Yeah.
EM: Yeah. I’m going to scan these for David and send them to him.
DK: Right.
EM: And he’s going to see whether they can find the cloth or any of the people.
DK: Yeah. We can put an appeal out there.
EM: Yeah.
DK: On the Facebook pages.
BR: There were about the second time they contacted me for that one.
EM: Yeah.
BR: For the cloth.
DK: Yeah.
BR: It was a WAAF officer and that. Is there a write up about it?
DK: Yeah.
EM: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
EM: Yeah.
DK: Well, we’ll see. We’ll see what we can do.
BR: And —
DK: I can get both the IBCC to look into it on their Facebook page and also the Coningsby Aviation Museum that’s recently opened. Or the Historical Centre or whatever it’s called.
EM: Yeah. But as I say we were there.
DK: Yeah.
EM: And they just seemed totally aghast that anyone and I said well this had been going on and as I say it’s 1944/46 look.
DK: So it was lost between the late 40s and about eighty —
EM: ’86. Found in ’86 and lost again.
DK: Oh dear.
BR: What’s the date of that? That one.
EM: It’s 1986.
BR: Yeah. Yes, so —
EM: But I’ll do that.
BR: I don’t think she ever got it, but its disappeared and it isn’t in the museum.
DK: Well, we —
BR: And that’s what they wanted.
DK: We’ll have to see what we can do.
BR: And they asked me on Monday if I would take the cloth to show them but we never got the chance.
DK: Right. Well, what I can do is I can send, if you email me all that I can send that to them. Both Coningsby and —
EM: Yeah.
DK: IBCC and they can put out an appeal for it then.
EM: Yeah. Because the other thing I don’t know if you’ve noticed somebody’s written on there Dinah Shaw.
DK: Right.
EM: And there’s a singer called Dinah Shaw.
DK: Oh right. Ok.
EM: And they don’t, is that right? Dinah Shaw. Isn’t there a singer?
BR: Dinah Shaw.
EM: Dinah Shaw. Dinah Shaw. And they’re not sure if it was the Dinah Shaw who was the singer who put her name on that cloth.
BR: Well, it probably was but I don’t know.
DK: Right. Right.
EM: And she’s quite a famous —
DK: Yeah.
EM: Person. Which is why they’ve written that there look.
DK: Yeah. So whereabouts is your mother’s name?
EM: Mum’s on this —
BR: I don’t know why. I don’t know why.
EM: Betty Jackson.
DK: Oh, Betty Jackson. There you go.
BR: Wendy came to me and there’s my name on there.
EM: Yeah. Your name’s there look. On the bottom.
BR: Yeah. E Jackson.
EM: Betty. No, Betty Jackson.
BR: I put Betty. Yeah.
EM: Yeah. But you see there Douglas Craig, all the names are quite —
DK: Quite clear aren’t they?
EM: Quite clear aren’t they? I mean I don’t know what they’d be like —
BR: And there’s lots of girls in there from other stations that I’ve kept at the back.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And put the names under.
DK: Well, it would be good if you could get all the names to the faces.
BR: Yeah.
EM: What do you want me to do then? Get the names?
DK: If you get the names to the faces on there.
EM: Yeah.
DK: I can either come back and scan these myself if you like.
EM: Well, it’s up to you.
DK: Or scan them.
EM: I can scan them at work and send them from work.
DK: We just need them at six hundred BPI.
EM: Yeah.
DK: Six hundred. Or DPI is it? Six hundred DPI.
EM: Dots per inch.
DK: Dots per inch.
EM: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: Six hundred DPI. If you can do that you can then just email them to me.
EM: Right. What I’ll do then I’ll get her to name, you see. I mean again they’re all here look.
DK: They were. Yeah. I see you’ve got a missing one there.
BR: Yeah. What’s that one?
DK: That’s —
EM: Peggy. Oh, Peggy Hassel. I don’t know where she’s gone.
BR: Yes.
DK: She’s [unclear]
EM: Oh, she’s there mum.
DK: [unclear]
BR: Oh yes. She’s there. Peggy Hassel.
EM: But they’re fabulous photographs aren’t they?
DK: They are aren’t they?
EM: I don’t know what that is.
BR: It was a job to get your photograph.
EM: What’s that? Who did that?
BR: Percy Bexton. Doesn’t it say on there?
EM: Yeah. And who was Percy Bexton, 1946?
BR: Yes. He was at Scampton and he was in the office. He says, ‘I’ll give you something to remind you, Betty of me and that’s what he did for me.
EM: Yeah.
BR: Yeah.
EM: They’re great, aren’t they?
BR: And that’s how I looked.
DK: Yeah.
EM: Yeah.
BR: When I got there.
DK: Oh yes. Yeah.
BR: That’s the one that’s enlarged there and —
EM: They’re good though aren’t they?
DK: So that’s Winstanley Hall in the background was it?
EM: That’s Winstanley Hall, isn’t it?
BR: Yes. That’s Winstanley Hall. And why I’m sitting amongst the daffodil apparently every year when the daffodils came out they were picked and given and sold to the hospital in Wigan.
DK: Ok. Right.
BR: And that’s the reason I’m sitting there with that in the background.
DK: I know the IBCC would love those photos.
BR: We were in Nissen huts.
DK: Yeah.
BR: That’s where we are in slacks and that.
EM: Yeah.
BR: It was a day off —
EM: Well, I’ll go through with you.
BR: Yeah.
EM: And make notes and then if I can scan everything.
BR: Yeah.
DK: And send to you.
DK: And send them to me.
EM: And you can choose.
DK: And I can send them on.
EM: What you want and don’t want, can’t you?
DK: Particularly the cuttings and we’ll see if we can —
EM: Yeah.
DK: Put the message out there about the lost cloth.
EM: But from Scampton then you went to Coningsby, didn’t you?
BR: No. I went from Scampton to Syerston.
EM: Right.
BR: But it was just, I think some of the Dambusters were posted there but I wouldn’t be certain.
DK: Yeah.
BR: But I never bothered about them. We never bothered about them. We were just WAAFs going on duty. Then we, that was it.
DK: So you didn’t mix with the men much then. Mix with a group.
BR: Well, we did because there was always a dance on the camp.
DK: Right.
BR: And the odd one would come to it but you’d just, they’d just come up and say, ‘Come on,’ you know, ‘I’ll have this dance with you.’ And you didn’t, it never made everything.
DK: Yeah.
BR: You know. They were just, when we were off duty we went to the dance. It was on every week. It wasn’t anything special and I wasn’t a dancer.
DK: Yeah. So how, so you left in 1946.
BR: 19 —
DK: ‘46. Yeah.
EM: You left. When did you go to Coningsby then? In 1945.
DK: ’45.
BR: Yes.
EM: Why? Did you get posted to Coningsby?
BR: Yes. I went from Scampton to Syerston.
EM: Yeah.
BR: From Syerston to Coningsby.
EM: Right.
BR: In 1945.
EM: Right. And so you were a teleprinter operator.
BR: And I was a teleprinter operator.
EM: At Coningsby.
BR: All the time. Yeah.
EM: But they, where did you live in Coningsby? You were in the Nissen huts in Pilgrim Square.
BR: We were. That’s right. That’s where those pictures were taken.
DK: Yeah.
BR: Outside with that cloth.
DK: Right. Yeah.
BR: I was Coningsby.
DK: So what, what was it like in a Nissen hut? Was it a bit cold?
BR: You see. I wish I could tell what he said.
EM: What was it like living in the Nissen huts?
BR: Well, it was alright because it was really, you slept in them and then you was going on duty and then when you come off duty if you were free we’d go in to Lincoln. To the YMCA. But Lincoln was not, it wasn’t a long way to Lincoln from Scampton.
EM: Oh, Scampton. We’re back at Scampton now.
DK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
BR: But that’s what you did. And if not we went to the Nissen huts and —
DK: Yeah.
BR: Didn’t do anything there. We just used to sit around the fire and talk.
EM: What about when you were Coningsby? Where did you go when you were at Coningsby?
BR: Coningsby. Well, we were stationed at Pilgrim Square.
EM: Yeah.
BR: In the Nissen huts.
EM: Yeah.
BR: And well I shouldn’t say this it’s where my husband, where I met my husband. And if you want to know that story it’s lovely.
DK: Oh, well go on then. If you’re happy to tell it. What, what was your husband doing?
BR: He was a GPO engineer.
DK: Right.
BR: And he was, he wasn’t in the forces. What was it?
EM: Civil service wasn’t he?
BR: Yes.
DK: Yeah. Reserved Occupation.
EM: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
BR: His area was Woodhall Spa, Horncastle, Digby RAF, Coningsby RAF. Everything to do with —
DK: Right.
BR: And he was at Blankney Hall when it burned down. And Stan came to mend the teleprinter I was on.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And also the telephone exchange was just there adjoining the teleprinter room.
DK: Right.
BR: So he went to mend the fault on the switchboard, came off and went to the room which was the GPO room to wash his hands. And he came back with his hands wet through and I said, ‘Here you are. Dry them on my towel. I’m going on leave for the weekend.’ So that was it. Off he went. About a quarter of an hour later the telephone rang and a voice said, ‘When did you say I was going to take you out?’ And I said, ‘Well, I think you’ve had a bit of bad luck. I’m going on a forty eight hour pass.’ And he asked the girls in this, what he knew, when I was coming back. And they said, ‘She’ll be back in Monday night. And she’s got to be in by 23.59.’ And he sat and waited for me at Coningsby Station for, to watch me get off the train. And there he sat in his little Austin 7. And he said, and I could have dropped dead, and he came and opened the door and he said, ‘I’ve come to pick you up.’ He said, ‘There’s a good film on at Boston. Would you like to go and see it with me?’ He said, ‘We’ll get you back for midnight.’ So off we went to Boston to see this lovely film.
DK: Yeah.
EM: Which was?
BR: Eh?
EM: What was the film?
BR: Oh dear.
EM: I know what the film was.
BR: What was it?
EM: “State Fair.”
BR: “State Fair.” That’s it. And that was it. And from then on when he came to the camp we just kept going out together and —
DK: So, so it was a good thing you were in the WAAFs then. Because of that you met your husband.
EM: Yeah. Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
EM: You met, you met dad through being in the WAAF and posted to Coningsby, didn’t you?
BR: Yeah.
DK: Yeah.
EM: Yeah.
BR: Yes. That was the last place.
EM: That’s why she lived in Woodhall Spa.
DK: Right.
EM: Because he lived at Woodhall Spa.
BR: And in my off duty Stan would pick me up. He’d be going out to one of the villages like South Kyme.
DK: Yeah.
BR: To a little telephone exchange and I’d go with him.
DK: Yeah.
BR: But if we saw another PO van he used to say, ‘Duck down,’ because —
DK: You shouldn’t have been there.
BR: I shouldn’t have been in it. But that’s what we did all the time.
DK: Yeah. Ok. I think let’s wrap up here.
BR: And we got married.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And went to live in Woodhall Spa.
DK: Right, then. Can I, can I just ask you finally how do you look back on your time in the RAF as a WAAF? How do you look back on it now?
BR: What was that?
EM: How do you look back on your time in the RAF as a WAAF?
BR: Yes. I loved every minute of it.
DK: Yeah.
BR: It was so interesting and it was a routine. And —
EM: But you enjoyed it didn’t you?
BR: Yes. I did.
EM: And you met some lovely people.
BR: Yes. And they were going to have a Ruhr tour.
DK: Right.
BR: That was to see the damage.
DK: Oh right. Ok.
BR: And every so often the aircraft, the Lanc —
DK: Yeah.
BR: Flew. This was just after the war. Oh, I don’t know if the war was on and you could put your name down for a Ruhr Tour.
DK: Right.
BR: And so I put my name down but I never got on the Ruhr Tour because I got demobbed in April ’41.
DK: So you never flew then all the time.
BR: No.
DK: When you were a WAAF.
BR: No.
EM: She never got to.
BR: That would have been the icing.
DK: I should say.
BR: And if I hadn’t met Stan, and we were getting married I would put my name down for, was it Singapore?
DK: Right. Yeah.
BR: I was going to stay in the WAAF.
DK: Right.
BR: And go off to Singapore. But it didn’t happen.
DK: It didn’t happen. No. Ok.
BR: And —
DK: Sorry, go on
BR: So that’s it.
DK: Ok, that’s great. I’ll stop it.
BR: There’s lots of little things that happened that, you know.
EM: What?
DK: Yeah.
BR: The one that sticks in my mind. Oh, when I was on the parade ground the first night being a volunteer there was a lot of girls turned up but by morning a lot of girls had gone back home because they could.
DK: Right.
BR: So of course we had to stay because they were going to issue uniform and the WAAF officer went around with a corporal I think to see if your hair was off your collar. And mine as you can see was quite curly and she pulled it out of, down on to my collar to see if it was going to touch my collar and she said, ‘Barber’s shop,’ to this corporal. And I said, ‘What does that mean?’ Well, I could. I couldn’t turn around and say, ‘Why am I going there?’ And so she said, ‘You’ll have your hair cut to a certain length.’ And I went to the barber’s shop and there was a young lad in it, and he was going to cut my hair and I said, ‘You’re not doing that.’ He said, ‘I’ve got to cut some of it off.’ So I told him how much he could take off which he did. And from then on I lost the curls that I did.
DK: Yeah.
BR: And got, put it in a roll. You put it in a roll and tucked it in, you know. And that was alright.
DK: So long as it was off your collar.
BR: Yes.
DK: Yeah.
BR: To get it off my collar.
DK: Your collar. Yeah.
BR: And then of course I go first time out the corporal plonked my hat on.
DK: Can’t win.
BR: And funny how I remember her name. Corporal Blood.
EM: It’s good though, isn’t it?
DK: Yeah. Yeah.
EM: Ok.
DK: Ok. Well we’ll stop it there. Thanks. Thanks very much for that.
[recording paused]
That was David Kavanagh for the International Bomber Command Centre interviewing Betty Repton nee Jackson at her home [buzz] on the 9th of March 2018. Also there was her daughter Elaine Mablethorpe. That’s Elaine Mablethorpe. Ok.



David Kavanagh, “Interview with Betty Repton,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 7, 2023,

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