Interview with Sylvia Trapp


Interview with Sylvia Trapp


Sylvia was born in Mansfield where her father was a miner and her mother had worked at Lawns Mills. She had two brothers and a sister. Sylvia was 15 when she left school to work at the hosiery mills and recalls the German manager being deported. She joined the WAAF and completed basic training at RAF Innesworth. Away from home for the first time, she cried a lot.
She was selected for wireless training and trained at RAF Compton Bassett and Blackpool, where she used to go dancing. As a wireless operator Sylvia was posted to RAF Bottesford and then RAF Waddington, working shifts in the Air Traffic Control tower. She also had to check the aircraft radios.
Sylvia's accommodation hut had ten beds and on many evenings, she was able to get a lift home to Mansfield and back with a contractor. At RAF Waddington, she met and fell in love with Harold, a bomb aimer and says it was hard to watch him depart on operations. But he survived and they married when the war ended and they had two daughters.
In 1947 the family moved to Scotland for three years but Sylvia found it very lonely so Harold transferred to Mansfield.
Harold's flight engineer emigrated to North America after the war and was always suggesting they do the same. Sylvia's daughters both went first and then, when Harold retired, he and Sylvia went to California
Sylvia says they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in New Zealand and then recalls how she had spent her honeymoon on a train to Glasgow with two army men, before travelling all the way down to Portsmouth, where she became absent without leave. Worried that she might be imprisoned, she returned to RAF Waddington where her WAAF commanding officer took sympathy on her.




Temporal Coverage





00:38:17 audio recording


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AM: Ok, so today is Tuesday the 5th of April and this is Annie Moody for the International Bomber Command Centre and today I am with Sylvia Trapp and we are at Sylvia’s home in Mansfield. And Sylvia was a WAAF so we are going to get Sylvia’s story now. And just to start, no, go.
ST: I wasn’t Trapp until the end of the war.
AM: Right, I’ll get your maiden, well, right, you tell me then if we start off with your maiden name.
ST: Needham.
AM: Leedham.
ST: Needham.
AM: Needham. Needham. Ok. And we’ve already got your date of birth so we know that you are ninety four.
ST: Ninety four.
AM: Ninety four and can you tell me where you were born, Sylvia?
ST: I was born in Mansfield, 216 Victoria Street. Mansfield.
AM: Right, there we are. What did your parents do?
ST: My dad was a miner. My mum, before she was married, worked at the Lawn Mills.
AM: Right. And what, did you have brothers or sisters?
ST: I’ve got, I had two brothers and two sisters. My brother, John Thomas was the oldest, and he worked at Hermitage Hosiery factory, on Hermitage Lane. And my next brother Fred, he worked, he was a butcher, [unclear] the butcher on Regents Street and my sister Eirene she worked at the Hermitage Hosiery factory and me, I worked, oh, I went, Hosiery Mills, I was in the sales office [unclear]. But before, the war started, I worked at the Quartex, up Sutton Road, a big hosiery mills that was owned by Germans. And when the war started, they turned it into a munition place.
AM: Right.
ST: And that’s where I worked, yeah.
Am: Where did you go to school?
ST: I went to Moor Lane School and then up to High Oakham School.
AM: And how old would you be when you left?
ST: How old, fifteen when I left.
AM: Fifteen?
ST: Yeah.
AM: Right.
ST: Then I went to work at the hosiery mills.
AM: Yeah. What did you do there?
ST: I was in the quality control.
AM: Right. Checking the stockings.
ST: No, jumpers.
AM: Oh, it was jumpers. Alright.
ST: And I didn’t tell you, the Germans, when the munition came to the Quartex, the Germans were taken away, the boss was taken away and they were on the way to being deported to Canada and the boat was sunk by a U-boat. So after that
AM: But you were there from being fifteen?
ST: I’m trying to think, I
AM: Cause
ST: Yes, I worked at the Quartex from being fifteen. Then when I grew up to twenty I, my brothers had been called up, Tom went first, then Fred, then my sister went and she went into the Air Force and I asked if I could go into the Air Force and they wouldn’t let me. But I did. They wouldn’t let me join my sister where she was, they kept us apart and I went into the Air Force and we had to meet, we had to meet this officer on Nottingham Station and there was about ten of us, all met on the station and they took us down to Innsworth in Gloucester and then we did the basic training and we had to sit these written exams, and everybody was being allocated and then he told me to stand on one side and there was about six of us had to stand on one side, and we kept wandering, what on earth are we going to do? Anyway he came to us and he says, I’ve chosen you because I think I can rely on you. As you know, we are losing men and they are getting very short, and I’m going to put you onto a man’s job, he says, and I put my faith in you, that you will be able to do it. Then we were allocated to, I was sent to Bottesford, was sent to Bottesford and we, no, no, that’s wrong, I was, we were sent to Compton Bassett and we learned all about radio, how to send messages and code words and things like that and we did about five weeks there and then went up to Blackpool to learn the Morse code and I was there from, I can’t remember how long I was there but we learned the Morse code and how to print, you know, the messages and what have ye and after that I was sent to Bottesford and from Bottesford I stayed there for a while and then I was moved to Waddington.
US: You know Bottesford, was that the Bomber Command base? Were you actually on a base?
ST: Yeah. Isn’t it a base now?
US: Bottesford, no, it’s just fields. So, you were actually sent to Bottesford?
ST: Yes.
US: As a wireless
ST: Wireless operator.
US: Operator.
ST: Yeah. You know, Bottesford is not on the map now, then?
US: Well, Bottesford is on the map, but it’s not a Bomber Command base, it’s not an RAF base anymore.
ST: Oh, ok.
US: So, what happened when you got to Bottesford, obviously there were Lancasters or Stirling bombers flying from there.
ST: Ah, there were Stirling, yeah.
US: Stirling. Yeah.
ST: There weren’t Lancasters and then we were sent to Waddington and I think that was, was that an Australian base? I can’t remember. There were Australians.
US: 44 Squadron. Yeah. There could have been Australians there.
ST: Anyway I was there and
AM: Can I ask you about the training. You know when you said you did the training, and first on the radios and the Morse code, what was it like doing that?
ST: Oh, you know, I was a bit, I was really scared going into the Air Force. I’ve never been away from home before in my life and anyway, it was, no, I thought I was determined to prove to him that I could do it so I
AM: I’m on this job.
ST: Yeah. Yeah, I thought, if they can do it, we can do it, sort of thing.
AM: So, what was it like, how did you start to learn how to, the wireless?
ST: Wait, that was down in Compton Bassett.
AM: Compton Bassett, yeah.
ST: Yeah, no, we had classes, we had to march to classes, used to play these [unclear] marches, you know, we marched to class and but they were mixed classes, mixed, and yeah, we, they taught us how to sort radios out and
AM: What do you mean by sort them out? You mean, built them into bits and put them back together?
ST: Yeah, if there was any wires lose to solder them on, you know, we were taught all that and then, I think I can’t remember how long we were there but it must have been weeks. And then once we were able to do that, they sent us up to Blackpool and
AM: Where did you stay in Blackpool? In digs?
ST: Private digs, you know, like boarding houses and she was very strict, we had to be in at ten o’clock at night. Well, you know the ballroom where we used to go dancing and what [unclear] and there was every nationality in the world, out of Europe and everywhere and so
AM: What did you get up to then?
ST: So, we used to take it in turns to, if anybody didn’t go they would unlatch the window down, one of the windows so we would get into the window [laughs] and, yeah, she was very strict she was. But I guess she had to be, you know
AM: Were you all girls in your boarding house?
ST: Yeah, we were all girls. Yes.
AM: What was it, what was the ball dancing like then?
ST: Oh, it was marvellous, you had that many partners when you were dancing, you know. You never did a dance with one person, you were excused and then next one.
AM: They cut in all the time.
ST: Oh, we had a lovely time there, yeah.
AM: What did you, did you have to go in uniform or could you put a dress on?
ST: No, I went in uniform.
AM: In uniform. Smart girls in uniform.
ST: Yeah. I don’t think, I don’t think we were allowed to go in
AM: I don’t know
ST: I can’t remember that. Or perhaps I didn’t have any [layghs]
AM: Maybe not. Did you have to do marching up and down the front? I know the men did.
ST: Yeah, that’s right, yeah. [unclear] uniform. Yeah, we had a great time there.
AM: And you said this was the first time you had been away from home as well.
ST: Yeah. When I was down in Gloucester, I wasn’t the only one who cried all time [laughs] but you could hear everybody crying. You know, cause I suppose we all lived in the same boat and. But then, after Blackpool, I really enjoyed that and I, when we passed our, we had to sit these exams and pass them and
AM: Was it, when you said sitting the exams, was it a written exam or did you have to literally put a radio together and
ST: Oh, we did that, yes. After we’d been taught, we did that, yes. We had to do that. It sort of got into me then, you know, I knew I’d got to do this sort of thing though. That was great.
AM: Did anybody not manage it? Could you not
ST: Yeah, yeah, quite a lot, yeah.
AM: So what happened to them?
ST: They were put to other jobs. Maybe in the cook house or driving or something like that. Yeah, they [unclear] dropped down, yeah. After we, when we got to Blackpool, we learned the Morse, you know, it was, we were there way to go at eight o’clock in the morning, we’d have Morse all day, it was headphones on and in fact when we used to go home on the train, every time I passed a station, I’d been doing it in Morse. I must admit, I began to enjoy life after that, yeah. And then, after, Bottesford, I guess, then Waddington, and then, oh, I know, then I was in the air traffic control, you know, in the air traffic [unclear]
AM: At Waddington.
ST: And there was Canadians, they were all Canadians and the sergeant Canadian in charge said to me one day, I’d like you to come with me, as you are going to learn something new today so we went into this great, this hangar, you know how big hangars are, and they’d fixed up, there was sort of a line, oh, on the floor was a big map of Newark and Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire and the rivers were all in like silver foil and the bush, the trees, they’d made like little trees, so that you looked at the land from up there sort of thing and they’d got this wire going along and this machine, supposed to be the aircraft I should think
AM: In the air.
ST: And as it went over the, they were able to see what they were bombing, if you know, you could [unclear]
AM: Like a bird’s-eye view.
ST: Yes. That’s right, yeah. And that was interesting but there were all aircrew and me and this sergeant, I was, I think I was scared, you know, petrified, cause he asked me to switch something on and I couldn’t move, where is it? I forgot. And, because he’d showed me but I forgot and then this nice young Scottish man came and he did it for me.
AM: I’ll see about the Scottish man in a minute. Just, let’s go back to the beginning of Waddington. How did, so you’ve done your radio training, you’ve done your Morse training, how did they then decide where they were going to send you? Did you just, were you just told where you were going?
ST: We were just told, yeah.
AM: So you were told Waddington.
ST: Yeah.
AM: How did you get to Waddington then?
ST: Do you know, I can’t remember.
AM: No?
ST: I guess they took as there, yeah.
AM: Yeah? And what was it like when you got there? What did you think when you saw it? How did it look like?
ST: Strange. We had to go up a spiral staircase to, you know, up into the air traffic control [unclear].
US: So you operated out of the control tower?
ST: Yeah.
US: Were you actually talking to the bomber crews?
ST: No, no, no. They, as I say, they are all Canadians and
AM: Yeah, describe what you actually did in the tower.
ST: What we did, I just sat at this table with earphones on and received messages and sent messages.
AM: Received them from where? From whom?
ST: From the aircraft.
AM: From the aircraft.
US: So you didn’t [unclear] Morse code?
AM: So you’re receiving the message in Morse
ST: Yeah. Yeah.
AM: And you’re translating it and
ST: I didn’t translate it, I just passed it on.
AM: No. You just passed it on. By radio.
ST: Well, to the sergeant in the room. The sergeant and officers in the room. Mostly it was the sergeant that dealt with us and
US: So the aircraft would send a message back to Waddington in Morse
ST: I would take it down
US: So and the radio operator in the plane is tapping out a message in Morse, which you receive and then it’s passed on to be deciphered. So [unclear] plane
AM: So, did you know what the messages were saying or did you not have time to even think about that?
ST: Not a clue
AM: How long were your shifts? What were the shifts like?
ST: Eight till four. Four till midnight. Midnight till eight.
AM: And what were your digs like?
ST: Oh, we were in a hut, there was about, I don’t’ know, about ten of us I think in this hut, yeah.
AM: All girls.
ST: We had our own bed space and our little cabinet, you know. Yeah.
AM: And what about eating. Where did you eat? Did you eat with the men or were you kept separate?
ST: We were quite good, we were separate, you know when all the ground crew went in, we went separate and we seemed to get nicer meals [laughs].
AM: How many of you would there be in comparison to the men? Ish.
ST: Gosh, well, up in the air traffic control there were just two of us and about six men.
AM: Right.
ST: And I never met anybody else after that, you know, we just, unless you went to the dance at night, when I was on the right shift, we would go to the dance.
AM: Right. Where was the dance?
ST: In the
AM: On the base.
ST: On the base. Yes.
AM: On the base. So, I imagine there were a lot more men than women at the dance.
ST: Oh, hundreds more, yeah.
AM: What was that like?
ST: [unclear] Four of us to the whole base sort of thing.
AM: What was that?
ST: There was the cooks [unclear] everybody.
AM: Yeah. I bet you danced off your feet, weren’t you?
ST: Well, it was lovely, yeah.
AM: It was lovely [laughs].
ST: I had never been to a dancing. [laughs]
AM: And you mentioned to me that you’d actually been in an aircraft, what
ST: We used to climb in to see if, when they came back, if we had to go and check the radio, see that it was [unclear]
AM: When you say we, you girls from the control tower.
ST: Yes. We went, yeah.
AM: So, what was that like then, climbing into a plane [unclear]?
ST: There were no steps, you know, we had, I don’t how I got in, I used to hang onto things that somebody had thrown in [laughs]. I was only about seven stone seven when, you know, I was only little and I could never manage up there. Anyway it was fun and we had fun.
AM: You had fun. So tell me about this Scottish person then.
ST: Oh well, yeah.
AM: From the beginning.
ST: Oh well, we were, oh I told you, we watched this thing work and take pictures
AM: Ok, the bird’s-eye view of the map
ST: And then we were dismissed and we went to the naffy and the sergeant went into the naffy and then this nice young airman came in and said, come and sit with me, would you like a coffee? And I said yes please and he says, come and sit over here with me and that was the beginning of romance [laughs], yeah. We went on the bus into Lincoln and he proposed to me and I bought a ring there and everything. We went to the jewellers and there were no rings there for me, only about three earrings in the whole shop [laughs] but there were a lot
AM: How long did this romance last before you were married? Because he would be going on operations all this time.
ST: Oh yeah.
US: What was his name, Sylvia?
ST: I only knew him six months before
AM: What was his name?
ST: But we were married [unclear] for our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We went to New Zealand and
AM: What was his name?
ST: Harold
AM: Harold
ST: Harold James Trapp. Yeah.
AM: So what was it like then, when you first met him and he got you a coffee and then you went straight to the jewellers, but it must have been a bit in between when you went to dances and stuff like that? What was it like when he was going off on operations?
ST: Ah, not very good.
AM: No?
ST: You used to pray that they came back.
US: Can you remember what squadron he flew with?
ST: [unclear]
US: What did he do on the plane? Was he?
ST: He was a bomb aimer.
US: Bomb aimer.
AM: Was the bomb aimer. But he obviously came through it. If you were married for fifty years.
ST: Yeah. Thank goodness, yeah.
AM: Watched him go out and watched him come back.
ST: Yeah. We used to wait, [unclear] we used to wait for him coming back, yeah [unclear]
AM: So, when did you get married? Did you get married during the war or?
ST: December the 4th 1945.
AM: Alright, so just after the end.
ST: Yeah. 1945, yeah.
AM: How long did you stay in the WAAFs for?
ST: Well, the year after we got married I was expecting [laughs] so I came home. Our daughter was born.
AM: You must have lots of other stories, things that have happened. Come on, let’s hear some of them.
ST: [laughs] well, another thing. They used to, there was a firm from Mansfield that repaired the runways, kept the runways in track. Well, Mansfield was my hometown, so, I got talking to and, I can’t remember, it must be when they went at four o’clock at night, when I was eight till four and I used to get a lift home and then come back with him next morning and [laughs]
AM: Were you allowed to do that or was that a secret?
ST: I don’t think so, no, they didn’t know [laughs]. No, they didn’t know. But it was handy, you know, it was quite handy, I knew they [unclear] went straight to Mansfield, came back the next day and my friend, oh, I had a friend in the hut named Pearl and she used to look after my, you know, if come round
AM: She just [unclear]
ST: She was just standing in for me [laughs]
AM: [laughs] Did you do, another WAAF I talked to, Bassie, she talked to me about everybody about the WAAFs doing each other’s hair and makeup and stuff. Did you do that or were you not into?
ST: I didn’t do it, I didn’t use, you know, we just rolled our hair up and we had to roll it up
AM: Yeah, and [unclear]
ST: Grips [unclear] cause [unclear] straight, you know,
AM: Roll [unclear]
ST: I think [unclear] a lot of makeup in those days. No, I wasn’t into that.
AM: No, Bassie definitely [unclear]
ST: Pearl and I, we used to, perhaps go for a walk, she came from Coalville in Leicester and we were really good friends straight away, you know, and
AM: Was she a radio operator as well?
ST: Yeah.
AM: Yeah.
ST: Yeah. But she was sent to a different place after a while, she was sent to
AM: Were you ad Waddington the whole time?
ST: Yeah.
AM: Yeah. You stayed at Waddington. So you get to know lots of the men and obviously you had [unclear] you get to know lots of the different.
ST: Yeah, yeah, but, you know.
AM: Did you go out with him and his crew?
ST: No, no.
AM: Did you not?
ST: No, I didn’t, no. Cause I say, I kept nipping home to my mum [laughs]
AM: What did your mum and dad thing about having two dancers in one?
ST: My dad died, [unclear] he died, that’s why I kept going home.
AM: Ok.
ST: She liked it when [unclear] but she used to do my washing [unclear] the next time I did [laughs]
US: What happened to your two brothers? You said you had two brothers. Did they?
ST: Oh Gosh, the oldest brother was stationed, he went to India, he went to India, but my
US: In the Royal Air Force.
ST: No, in the army.
US: He was in the army.
ST: He wasn’t fighting, he was
AM: Engineers?
ST: Yeah.
AM: Royal engineers?
ST: And then my younger brother, we never saw him for five years. He just got married because like the dough and he went into the army, he was put into the Essex regiment and he was sent abroad and we never saw him again for five years, never came home, he was in the Eight Army.
US: Right.
ST: And never saw him, he was so different when he came back. Nobody waving [unclear], when he came back he was bald and spoke a different, you know, sort of a different accent.
AM: A different accent. They both did come home, though.
ST: They came back, yeah and she had a baby while he was away. He’d never seen his dad for five years. Never didn’t even
AM: When you said he was away for five years I thought you were going to say he was a prisoner of war. But he wasn’t. He was just far away in the army.
ST: He was in the Eight Army. They just moved them place to place.
US: In the desert, probably in the western desert and then Italy and [unclear]
ST: Yeah. You see
AM: Too far to come back.
ST: Professionals you know, they wouldn’t let them come back, they kept using them until
AM: Yeah.
US: Your sister, was your sister?
ST: My sister? She went near Sheffield and she was a parachute packer [laughs], she was ok, yeah. When she got married, her husband [unclear] and he was sent to Norway fighting, they were fighting in Norway, their regiment, yeah.
AM: Crickey!
ST: So, I don’t know how my mum, I don’t know how she [unclear]
AM: [unclear] especially If your dad had died, early in the war did your dad die? Or did he die before that?
ST: ’36 he died.
AM: So before the war
ST: 1942
AM: But you said he was a miner.
ST: Kidney, kidney trouble.
AM: Yeah.
US: So it was good that your mum had you in Waddington
ST: Yeah,
US: [unclear]
ST: [unclear] that’s why I kept going home
AM: Well to [unclear] four children away,
ST: Yeah.
AM: This was unheard of before the war
ST: Yes it was and she tried to get me to stay at home, she tried to get me out of it and I wouldn’t listen to her.
AM: No.
ST: And then I tried to go with my sister and they wouldn’t let me [unclear]
AM: They wouldn’t let you do that. But all in all you sound like you enjoyed most of it.
ST: Oh, I did, I did. [unclear] different, if I hadn’t gone I was really very shy and never mixed much but that did me good going in the Air Force, it really did, yeah. And I spread my wings, you know, I’ve been everywhere now, so.
AM: Tell me a little bit about what, you met Harold and Harold was in the, a bomb aimer and obviously you got married in 1945 and then you had your [unclear] by having your daughter and what did Harold do at the end? Cause how long was it before he was demobbed?
ST: What was it, he was before he demobbed [unclear]
AM: Yeah, how long, because quite a lot of them went for another [unclear], weren’t they, before demobbing.
ST: He didn’t come out till ’47 because they were bringing VIPs back from Far East, you know. Yeah, they were bringing
AM: Where did you live then, if he was still in the RAF? While he was still there in ’46 and ’47?
ST: Where?
US: Did you go back to your mum’s or?
ST: I went to my mum’s.
AM: You went back to your mum’s.
ST: And then I went up to Scotland to live cause he worked for the electricity board and they were building a big hydroelectric scheme on Loch Lomond and so we moved round to, lived on Loch Lomond side for about three years. And then it was very lonely [unclear] so I wanted to come home to my mum so we got a transfer down to Mansfield, yeah. So
AM: Right. And then, because you were telling me you’ve lived all over the world, how did you end up?
ST: Yeah, the same crew as Harold was Joe Bradshaw, he was a flight engineer, and he was an Irishman, my husband was Scottish and they were buddies, you know, friends, and in fact he was my daughters godfather when she was born but he went back to Ireland, then he went to Canada, he emigrated to Canada and he met a lady there and got married in Canada. And then he worked for a car industry or something and he got a chance for a job down in San Diego in America so he was always saying, why don’t you come over here, this is the land of opportunity, so we did [Laughs]. We, first of all, my daughter went over for a holiday and she met a young man while she was there and she was a schoolteacher she had got [unclear] and she wrote and said, mum, I’m getting married and she came back, gave a notice and went back. So, then we went over to see her in San Diego and a younger daughter and her husband went as well so he liked it in San Diego, so he got, Joe got him a job in San Diego so they went over to San Diego, so I was living, we were living in a little [unclear] there and [unclear] my husband retired, he was sixty five and he said, we may as well go, so we packed up and went. So we were all in San Diego which is, have you ever been there?
AM: No.
ST: Paradise there. I don’t know why I left. And daughter and husband lost his job in San Diego and his mum lived in Burbank near Los Angeles so they went back and then my youngest daughter, he wasn’t getting very much money and he was offered a better job in New Jersey so they went over to New Jersey and we were left in San Diego so then we moved up further up California to Simi Valley, where that’s where my oldest daughter was, up at Simi Valley and we bought a house there and we live there and I’m twenty six years there.
AM: Wonderful. In retirement.
ST: In retirement. It was wonderful.
AM: You sound like you’ve had a lovely life.
ST: Yes, I have.
AM: You have a lovely life.
ST: And it’s while we were in San Diego that it was our fiftieth wedding anniversary and I said to my daughter, we don’t want any, we don’t want a party because all the family is in England. I said, we are going away, we are going by ourselves and we are going on a tour around New Zealand, cause we are doing bus tours, you know. So, we went and booked and we went, well, on December the fourth, that was our wedding anniversary. We got on, this coach, we were on the same bus and there were people from all over, you know, South Africa, Holland, everywhere, on this coach and we got on and everybody started singing happy anniversary to us [laughs]. So I said to the bus driver, how did you know? Cause we never said anything. And he says, a little bird told me that. So I think we went to see those hot things
AM: Springs.
ST: Yeah, hot springs and we went to see them and when we got back and went into the hotel and dinner, dinner was late that night he said, so went down for dinner. When we got into the dining room, it was decorated [unclear] happy anniversary.
AM: Wonderful.
ST: My daughter, my oldest daughter had sent a fax over, cause there were faxes then
AM: Yeah. The emails now, but faxes then.
ST: Sent a fax to the hotel. I don’t know if she sent money but there was the biggest wedding cake, three tier wedding cake and you just couldn’t believe it, [unclear] I just wanted a quiet
AM: A quite wedding
ST: We didn’t want to, no. [file missing] And I hadn’t asked for leave and I got two weeks at the same time and married December the fourth and we travelled, my mum and my sister and me, we travelled up to Glasgow by train which was full of troops, all, you know. It took as about eleven hours to get to Glasgow but when we got to Glasgow we’ve got to get to Gourock to get the ferry over, so we got to Gourock, it was dark, pitch black, not a thing and ferries had stopped running because it was gale, the gale blowing and I thought, what do we do now? So we stood there in the dark and I just didn’t know what to do and this American came over and he said, where are you heading for? I said, Dunoon. He says, I’ll take you. And there was in the Clyde of Dunoon there was a big submarine base, you know, American submarines and some of the crews had gone into Glasgow for a night out and he was, got the liberty boat waiting to take him home [laughs]. He says, I’ll take you across, well, there’s my mum, me and my sister and the gale blowing and we are going up and down, my mother was ever so sick, she says, I’ll never come here again, never again, she said. Anyway, got to Dunoon, and he got a car, they were allowed petrol, you know, and he came and met me, I phoned him and he came and met me. And then I got into trouble for not going to look for a hotel but we couldn’t see, it was pitch black, you know and anyway. Got married on the Tuesday and on the, on the Tuesday, maybe next day, Harold had booked a sleeper down to London, cause Harold’s sister had married a sailor and was living in Portsmouth. So we got on this sleeper and we went down to London but we had two bunks, one on top and then [unclear] me, if two army officers, they come in and [laughs]
AM: So that was your honeymoon.
ST: That was my honeymoon night. I got two army officers, my husband up there and me down here. Anyway we got to his sister’s and my leave was off so I sit down, I’m not going back, I’m not going back, I said. So he says, you’ll have to go back, I said, no, I’m not, you know. Anyway, we got a phone call from his mum and then [unclear] police had gone up to Dunoon for me [laughs]. So, I thought, well, I better go back, I said, I’ll get my husband in trouble, you know, you’ll get worse trouble [unclear]
AM: You were still in at this point.
ST: So, he took me back, he took me, we went back and I thought, oh God, I’m going to go to prison or something [laughs]. Anyway, I went in and it was, commanding officer was a woman and she came round and she put an arm round my shoulder and she says, you know, my dear, I would have done exactly the same [laughs].
AM: Brilliant.
ST: So, apart from having military police after me, I really [unclear] [laughs].
AM: [laughs], so, but all the way up to Dunoon?
ST: Yeah.
AM: Which is a long way [unclear] west coast of Scotland. And all the way back to Portsmouth.
ST: Yeah.
AM: Crickey! I knew there were stories in you.
ST: [laughs] you didn’t care in those days, did you? It could have been his last leave.
AM: He’d gone through the war, yeah, and he was still flying.



Annie Moody, “Interview with Sylvia Trapp,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 20, 2024,

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