Archive for the ‘1’ category

Basic Dictionary of the Spanish of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay

11 July 2021

This posting offers a sample of my 72-page dictionary and, if required, a downloadable PDF of the whole Dictionary.)

Category: Spanish Language

(TAGS: Basic Dictionary of Argentinian Spanish, Basic Spanish Used in the Southern Cone)


As the first example of the sorts of material that I propose to make available on this (newly) multi-purpose website, I offer a PDF version of a short e-book on the Spanish of Southern Latin America. It is only 70 pages long but may be of interest to Spanish language students as a quick survey of the principal local lexical preferences in those three countries.

The examples in this publication are taken from my 1990s Database of  Latin American Spanish, which I also used to compose my other Latin American Dictionaries and to contribute to 2 editions of the Collins Spanish and English Dictionary, the 1971 landmark lexicographical innovation by an admirable Hispanist, gentleman and lexicographical mentor, the late Colin Smith.

If the following sample is of interest, please download the enclosed PDF for the full version.

(And I promise that my next offering will be of more general interest to readers.)

Muestra / Sample:

Diccionario Mínimo de Argentinismos, Uruguayismos y Paraguayismos

[Basic Dictionary of the Spanish of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay]

Brian Steel


achura(s) nm (QCH) RPl =menudencias // A Traveler le empezó a dar hambre y pidió unas achuras. (J.Cortázar, Arg, 1970:264)

offal; guts

adición nf (FR) RPl =cuenta de restaurante

(restaurant) bill; (US) check

aeroparque nm Arg =aeropuerto pequeño // El Aeroparque local [el Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, de Buenos Aires] funcionó a un tercio de su nivel habitual, según el gremio de aeronavegantes.      (El Español en Australia, Sydney, 9-8-94:9)

small airport

aerosilla nf RPl =telesilla


agarrar(se) vt/vr esp RPl =coger // …anoche le hice tomar una aspirina… La agarró y se puso a mirarla. (J.Cortázar, Arg, 1970:83)

to take; to pick up

agauchadoa adj esp RPl

like a gaucho

agaucharse vr esp RPl

to become like a gaucho

alambre-carril nm Arg =teleférico

cable railway

alcaucil nm RPl


almacén nm RPl =tienda (de comestibles)

(grocer=s) shop; general store

ambiente nm esp RPl =habitación


ananá(s) nm(TUP) RPl =piña tropical


asado nm Arg =barbacoa


asado de tira nm Arg =chuleta

chop; ribs

austral nm Hist Arg =unidad monetaria argentina, 1985-1991

monetary unit of Argentina (1985-1991)

balón nm Arg =vaso grande para cerveza

tall beer glass

Banda Oriental nf Hist esp Ur = la República Oriental del Uruguay; actualmente sinónimo de Uruguay

Formerly, all Spanish possessions to the East of the river Uruguay, including (Brazilian) San Pedro, Río Grande do Sul, and Santa Catalina. Now, a synonym for Uruguay.

bandoneón nm Arg =acordeón grande

large accordion

bife nm

1. RPl =filete


2. fam RPl =bofetada


biógrafo nm ant RPl =cine


birome nf [a veces nm] Arg =bolígrafo

(ballpoint) pen

blancoa adj y nmf Ur =relativo al Partido Blanco

belonging or pertaining to the Blanco Party

boleadoras nfpl RPl


boliche nm

1. RPl

small grocery store

2. boliche (bailable) RPl =bar; discoteca

bar; discotheque

boludez nf esp pl vulg RPl =gilipollez

crap! (vulg); rubbish

boludoa adj y nmf vulg RPl =gilipollas

stupid idiot; (US) jerk

bombacha(s) nf(pl) RPl

1. =pantalones gauchos

Gaucho breeches

2. bombacha(s) =bragas

knickers; panties

bombita nf Arg =bombilla


bonaerense adj y nmf invar Arg =gentilicio de Buenos Aires

(person) from Buenos Aires

botija nmf invar fam Ur =chaval; chiquillo


botiquín nm Arg =armario de tocador

bathrooom cabinet


A downloadable full version is available in PDF format.

Please Watch This Space for Basic Changes

8 July 2021

After a lot of rough planning, I have decided to change the nature and content of this moribund Website. Deo volente.

As a first necessary chore I have just finished selecting and deleting over half of the articles published on this site since 2008. (That still leaves 110 and I have rough plans for a few groups of them.)

My next much bigger project is to sort and select for transfer or modification those articles from my (dormant) professional website ( which seem worth saving as well as some of the Spanish and Hindi language e-books which used to be offered for sale (plus free Samples) on that site.

(Please Note: Brian’s e-books are LONG PDF files which readers have to print for their use. Many of my existing — surviving — WordPress articles are also long, or very long, as some patient readers will have noticed.)

That’s all I can say at the moment but it’s a great relief and and added stimulus to have said it.

I hope some of my changes and additions will be of interest to my readers, old and new.

Hasta pronto. Phil milenge.

Brian (at ompukalani // hotmail)

The Audio Version of Blindness for Beginners. Now Available.

16 April 2021

Two years after the publication of Maribel Steel’s book Blindness for Beginners, the Audio Version has just been launched by (8 April 2021)

It was recorded by Harry Williamson of Spring Studio and the skilled reader is Alice Hermans.

This 8-hour version  of Maribel’s self-help memoir will be particularly welcome for its more effective accessibility and potential for people like herself, with impaired vision.

To get a basic idea about the audio book, try this:

In the 2 minute, 55 seconds SAMPLE (offered below the cover page on THAT website), the reader presents Maribel’s original ‘Dear Reader’ Introduction (pp.2-3) to her life-changing experience of going blind with Retinitis Pigmentosa and the complex process of adjusting her life, from age 17 on, to allow her to lead a full life and bring up four children, before creating her own career as a writer and mentor.

The 3 balanced Parts of the work are clearly identified:

Part 1: her personal biography, from the diagnosis (of Retinitis Pigmentosa), to acceptance and the long struggle to independence

Part 2: the types of practical strategies and attitudes that a visually-impaired person can adopt

Part 3: how other people can learn appropriate ways to assist visually-impaired persons.


To give potential purchasers a little more evidence of how the Audio book Blindness for Beginners may be of interest and use to them, I offer some relevant previous material and notes from the original book launch.

After the 2019 book launch there were four media appearances in Melbourne and Sydney (Australia). Three of these are still available to download, all showing how visual impairment does not make cooking impossible or too dangerous, providing very strict procedures are observed.

First came the two audio recordings by Australian ABC Radio National (RN), in its series Life Matters: April 10 and April 16, 2019.

‘Blind Inside a Tactile Kitchen’ 

Cooking demo with Michael McKenzie (in 2 parts)

Audio versions at:


The well-known presenter Michael McKenzie, wearing his blindfold, as instructed, was very brave, and completely empathetic. Guide dog, Dindi, was, as always, in attendance.

A week later in a follow-up TV interview with Studio 10 in Sydney, the studio audience and viewers  at home were treated to a 10 minute visual presentation of (briefly famous) Maribel’s blind cooking on the popular morning programme of Studio 10 TV. With assistance and a barrage of questions from her 2 amazed and nervous interviewers, she prepared the ingredients for Huevos a la flamenca (in memory of her mother).

This is now preserved on You Tube as: TV: Cooking ‘Blind’:

What I remember most vividly of this video is the apprehension on the faces and in the questions of those two glamorous interviewers as they stood beside visually-impaired Maribel briskly cutting up onions, with a large knife and a high degree of nonchalance.

That dramatic episode is just one example of Maribel’s very detailed repertoire of procedures built up during 40 years of learning to cope with practical life (including, of course, bringing up – and cooking for – a family of 4 kids).

Her hope and ambition is that her work will help other people facing different degrees of visual impairment to experience an easier but rewarding journey to success and personal fulfilment. And that family members, friends, institutions, and the general public will be able to relate more helpfully to visually-impaired persons.

Media Interest in Maribel Steel’s Blindness for Beginners

4 May 2019

*April 2021: Please note that the Audio version of “Blindness for Beginners” is now available. See

Since the 8 January blog announcing the publication of my daughter’s simpático handbook, interesting things have happened – especially in the past hyperactive week.

Book Launch

Writers Victoria, Melbourne, 26 April 2019

Media Appearances

April 10 & 16, 2019

ABC RN, Life Matters:

‘Blind Inside a Tactile Kitchen’  Cooking demo with Michael McKenzie (in 2 parts)


30 April:  ABC Radio 774, Writs and Cures, Steve Ellen and Bill O’Shea: Interview

*Choose 30 April session in this group and slide timer to c 1:27:50. Till about 1:50 [14 mins.]

2 May: Studio 10 TV, Sydney, 2 May: Blind cooking demo. Huevos a la flamenca (10 mins)  This url seems OK for a month from 2 May 2019


More Details:

The Launch of Blindness for Beginners on 26 April took place at the Melbourne offices of Writers Victoria, under the guidance of resident Writeability specialist and editor, Lyndel Caffrey.

In addition to more detail about Maribel’s life, career and work, elicited by a probing interview by Lyndel, we were given an audio recital of a few pages by Alice Hermans, who is at present completing the audio version of Blindness for Beginners with sound engineer and recordist Harry Williamson (Maribel’s partner).

The TWO blind cooking programs speak for themselves:

ABC RN, Life Matters:

‘Blind Inside a Tactile Kitchen’  Cooking demo with Michael McKenzie (in 2 parts)


Michael, with his blindfold on, was very brave, and completely empathetic!

2 days ago, we were treated to a 10 minute visual presentation of Maribel’s blind cooking on the popular morning program Studio 10 TV, Sydney. She prepared the ingredients for Huevos a la flamenca (in memory of her Mum):

Of special interest (for me at least) was the understandable look of fear and horror on the faces of the two glamorous Studio 10 presenters as they watched visually-impaired Maribel cutting up onions, with a large knife and a high degree of nonchalance. That image alone shows how Maribel’s depiction of her 40 years of learning to cope with practical life (including bringing up – and cooking for – 4 kids) may be of inspiration to many other people. That is her hope and ambition. But please spare a moment of sympathy for Maribel’s new guide dog, sleek and beautiful Dindi, who had to endure an uncomfortable flight to and from Sydney with her owner.

The interview on 30 April (ABC Radio 774 [Victoria]), Writs and Cures, with Steve Ellen and Bill O’Shea, touched very empathetically on various aspects of blindness and Maribel’s 40 years of coping and triumphing over the odds.

Maribel is now gearing up for more interviews and lectures, as is her indefatigable partner, Harry Williamson, sound engineer, recordist, photographer and polymath. Together, they have a great life. That makes me happy too!

Apology: Some of the URLs given will not work outside of Australia. And others may not last for long. But Harry will soon fix the latter! And maybe even the former.

For Maribel’ s other writings and activities, see

Translation 38. Hindi Learning Shortcuts. Introduction to a New Series

26 October 2012

Preliminary Note: This is the full Introduction to the series as it appears on my language website India page.

All subsequent articles in this series for English-speaking learners of Hindi will be briefly announced on this blog with a link to the full versions available only on that language website page.

Introduction to a series of Hindi Learning Hints

After spending most of my life learning, studying. using, teaching or writing about European languages, and after several visits to India, I decided four years ago that it was time to try to learn Hindi. My aim was not to be able to order a succulent curry or even to talk to Hindi-speaking Indians (who know infinitely more English than I will ever know Hindi) but to be able to follow what the Indian media and Indian citizens talk and write about. So the main criterion in selecting materials for this series was (and is) the achievement of greater comprehension of that language.

Four years older and wiser, I remain engaged in a time- and energy-sapping struggle with this fascinating but quite difficult language. Some of my previous language-learning strategies have proved very useful in keeping me on a slow learning curve but the real foreignness of Hindi vocabulary, morphology and grammar has presented a formidable linguistic Himalayan range to conquer. With Hindi there are none of the usual convenient and comforting ‘toeholds’ or mnemonics for “us”: all those familiar COGNATE European (latinate, and even germanic) words, prefixes and suffixes which are quickly recognisable to the English learner in a flow of Romance writing and speech (or even, to a much lesser extent, in German and Dutch).

One slight but interesting advantage has been the vast – and constantly growing – number of English loanwords used in educated and media Hindi. That will be the subject of a later Hindi Hints chapter. Another early chapter will deal with Hindi acronyms (with both local and international references) which, mainly because of a historical accident, are phonetically based on English. Hooray!

The planned series of hints and shortcuts for greater or speedier comprehension of Hindi by Anglo and other foreign learners has (at least) three motives:
1. To share some of my very hard-earned knowledge with other Anglo learners.
2. To encourage Hindi speakers and fellow Anglo learners of Hindi to point out my misunderstandings and to correct my errors.
3. To force myself to study and observe Hindi more carefully.

The Reference lists posted in each article will also point to those books or websites that I have found useful in learning Hindi, in particular in relation to transliteration of the difficult (but nowhere near the difficulty of Chinese script) Hindi Devanagari script, for quicker (romanised) deciphering.

I wish to express my special gratitude to my patient tutor, Indramohan Singh, who for the past three years has also acted as my translator, transliterator, interpreter and scientific advisor and has also supplemented my bilingual (romanised) dictionaries on the many occasions when they failed to enlighten me (or, perhaps, when I failed to locate the information in the exhausting labyrinth of the anti-firangi Devanagari alphabetical order). To give credit where credit is due, these life-saving lexicographical works were:
Allied’s Hindi-English Dictionary, Father Camille Bulcke’s posthumous Hindi-English Dictionary and, much more recently, the late Dr Hardev Bahri’s first-class 2-volume Advanced Learner’s Hindi-English Dictionary) and, at the eleventh hour, Arvind Kumar’s HEROIC opus and life’s work, the Hindi AND English Thesaurus.

Nevertheless, the errors in this series of articles are entirely of my own making and I look forward to benefitting from readers’ corrections (and, perhaps, additions), which would be most welcome by me – and excellent karma for such benefactors.

Notes for the Series

1. My simplified Hindi transliteration system should not be too difficult to understand. One of its advantages is that it stands a reasonable chance of being recognised by transliteration systems like those of Google (for conversion into Devanagari script, where necessary). (Thank God for transliteration as a partial antidote to the Devanagari script, however artistic the latter may be!)

2. In most articles, an English alphabetical order for Hindi words (a further utilitarian desecration!) is deliberately used since it allows Anglos to make quick searches for words and also allows the speedy extraction of useful materials using the “Sort” and “Find” features of Microsoft WORD and other word processors. Without this subterfuge, I would not have been able to accumulate (and benefit from) my private 14,000 word romanised Hindi Glossary! Although totally artificial, this unorthodox Hindi word order thus speeds up reference work enormously for foreign learners.

Favourites on this Blog – for Holiday Reading

27 December 2011

Of the one hundred and eleven blogs posted here since 2008, these are the 16 that have attracted most attention. Unlike other more ephemeral blogs, the subject matter seems to remain of interest.

With my good wishes for the New Year.

New Hope for Disempowered Women

‘The Fragmentation of Information in Wikipedia’

‘Please dress up the Em dash’

‘Global warming debate. 1’

‘Global warming debate. 2’
‘Global Warming Controversy. Part 2. Global Warming Scepticism: Some Basic Data & Chronological Notes’

‘Julia Owen and bee stings in Bromley’

‘Julia Owen, Retinitis Pigmentosa, and the Media. Part 1’
(Part 2 will follow in the New Year.)


Of 33 offerings on Translation and Interpreting topics, this item has captured most attention:
‘Translation 8. Fluency in foreign languages. The case of Dr Condoleezza Rice’
(See also ‘Translation. 30’.)

‘Translation 32. David Bellos’s Revealing Book on Translation and the Meaning of Everything’

‘Spanish Pronunciation in the Media’


‘The European Union’s verdict on the Franco Régime in Spain (1939-1975)’

‘Justo Gallego – the lone twentieth century Cathedral Builder’


‘Contemporary India. 1. Basic Sources of Information’

‘A Visit to Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram in October 2008’

‘Sathya Sai Baba: Questionable Stories and Claims. Part 1’

‘Fuzzy Dates in the Official Biography of Sathya Sai Baba. A Re-examination’

Amazon UK Reviews for Eileen Younghusband’s ‘One Woman’s War’

1 August 2011

Two weeks after the book launch there are 5 reviews on Amazon UK
(Will insular Amazon USA incorporate these one day?)

An untold story from WW2, and a very good read
By Hugh Turnbull (Wales) (Real Name)

A remarkable book which tells the untold story of a group of young women who played a huge role in saving Britain from the Nazis. Eileen Younghusband not only gives belated credit to the unsung heroines who worked at the heart of Britain’s radar defences, but were sworn to secrecy long after the war. She also speaks for the millions of ordinary people had their lives turned upside down by the need to contribute to the war effort. Her accounts of her wartime romances and her “make do and mend” wedding are almost as fascinating as her extraordinarily demanding job, helping to defeat Nazi bombing raids or save downed Allied aircrew. This is a complete picture of WW2 – from the build-up to the grim aftermath – as seen by a young woman who was just eighteen when it started but had to grow up extremely quickly. Those of us who were born later can only thank Eileen and her generation, and wonder whether we could have coped half as well.

An incredible story written by an incredible woman
By HC123 [Check this reviewer’s contributions on Amazon UK]

I haven’t read many autobiographies because they always seem to be written by celebrities, but this is a truly incredible story of an unsung hero. The author writes of her WW2 experiences in such a way that it’s as though she is telling the story to you personally. I have always been interested in the World Wars and this book provides not only an individual perspective but also remarkably accurate facts relating to the status of the war effort, allowing the reader the gain knowledge of Ms Younghusband’s life whilst learning more about the hardship and timeline of war.

This book can be read in two ways; an effort to learn more about the Second World War or just an incredible story featuring the love and loss of an incredible woman. Either way it can be enjoyed by anyone anywhere.

Better Late then Never
By Brian

This is a fine contribution to the history of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in World War II. Readers will be grateful that the 90 year old author’s memory so sharply recalls the detail of her war service, in particular her special service training and activities as a radar-savvy operator in the Filter Rooms of the British Royal Air Force in the early 1940s. Further revelations are offered by Younghusband about her equally vital and accurate work in Belgium towards the end of the War tracking the launch sites of V2 rockets.

In the July 2011 issue of the magazine “Saga”, Emma Soames (grand-daughter of Sir Winston Churchill) describes this ex-WAAF officer as “one of the mentally sprightliest people I’ve come across” and recommends “One Woman’s War” to all those “interested in the untold stories of that time”, especially for “its valuable contribution to our overall knowledge of that war.”

WAAFs at War
By Simon Mawer (Italy) (REAL NAME)

This book struck a strong chord with me because my mother served in the WAAF during the war, and worked in the top secret Filter Room as did Eileen Younghusband. However, my mother is no longer around to talk about her experiences whereas Mrs Younghusband most certainly is. And that is the tone and charm of the book – it is oral history put on paper, as though you are sitting in a chair beside the author and hearing her reminisce about night watches in the bunker at Fighter Command HQ or plotting V2 trajectories in Belgium in late 1944. Amidst the technical details the author also recounts her life and loves, the personal experiences of a young woman on active duty during a period that is starting to seem like distant history. It is an inspiring story from a remarkable woman.

How else can we thank that special generation?
By Clive Elsbury

This wonderful account of life during WW11, when a whole generation of British and allied citizens joined together to give civil populations the peace now enjoyed, draws the reader into the ‘pressure cooker’ atmosphere that those folk experienced. In the book, so well written, we join this lady in her journey from being an Au Pair to a most able tracker of missiles which enabled allied aircraft to destroy the launch vehicles. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Thank you for helping make my world safer.

(Please see my previous blog on my feisty 90 year old friend Eileen and her book. I am very proud of her writing and envious of her energy! It was a privilege and a pleasure to attend the book launch activities and to see Eileen review an RAF Guard of Honour at RAF Saint Athans, Wales.)

A Glut of Expertise in Glastonbury?

31 July 2011

Recent British media coverage of the (more or less) annual 4-day Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts revealed 170,000 revellers of all ages happily frolicking and wallowing in hectares of farmland mud near the famous Tor.

One week before these boisterous festivities, a brief return visit to the ancient town (which over 40 years appears to have become the New Age capital of Europe) provided interesting evidence of an ever-increasing range of commercial spiritual and ‘alternative’ services on offer to the many thousands of eager seekers who flock to the town which many believe to have connections with King Arthur, The Holy Grail and Joseph of Arimathea.

The monthly “unique free Guide to Holistic Glastonbury”, The Oracle , contains 20 pages of ads (costing practitioners from ₤140 for a full page to ₤12 for one sixteenth of a page). In addition to the more or less familiar offerings of Ayurveda, Hatha and Bhakti Yogas, Psychotherapy, Reiki Healing, Aromatherapy Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Psychic Readings, etc., the visitor is bombarded with offers of an extraordinary variety of special treatments, many of which clamour for attention by indicating novel or enigmatic approaches to various basic alternative therapies:

Atlantis Reborn
Atlantis Reborn Tantra for Women (“Sacred Bliss. One day workshop. ₤58. No sexual contact.”)
Vinyasa Krama Yoga
Horses as Teachers
Greenbreath – Plant Spirit Medicine
Humanity under Attack. It’s all in the Cards!
The 2012 Earth Changes and the Plan of Spiritual Evolution
Full Moon Ceremony of the Presence of the Lady of Avalon
Experience the 8th Wonder of the World – Damantur
Munay-Ki Rites and Mentoring
Labyrinths for Inspiration
Alchemy of Becoming
Goddess Wisdom and Healing Day
Priestess of Rhiannon. One year Training
Crystal Singing Bowls Sound Bathing
Alchemy of the Mind (Hypnotherapy)
Emotional Freedom Techniques: (Emotional Freedom ‘Light’ Techniques and Matrix Reimprinting)
The No Hands ‘Signature’ Massage
Hopi Ear Candle Treatment
Lifepath and Soul Purpose Readings
Intuitive Tarot Readings [Are these a refinement of ordinary Tarot readings?]
Indigo Holistics
Past Life Regressions & Hypnotherapy
Ho O Pono Pono

For a more rewarding description of Glastonbury by an outsider, see Roland Howard, Shopping for God. A Sceptic’s Search for Value in Britain’s Spiritual Marketplace (Chapter 8, ‘Magical Mystery Tor’, pp. 106-122).

Translation 30. Condoleezza Rice’s Knowledge of Russian. Addendum

12 May 2011

My 22 March 2009 blog (Translation 8) speculated at some length on the topic of Condoleezza Rice’s alleged prowess in Russian.

I have since come across an interesting media reference which I would like to add here as an addendum to that blog.

In April 2005, in his New York Times report from Lithuania on Dr Rice’s meeting with Vladimir Putin and other prominent Russian officials, Steven R. Weisman states:

“Ms. Rice held meetings at the Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry, but she also made a direct appeal to Russians in an interview on Ekho Moskvy, an independent radio station that frequently broadcasts criticism of the government and that says it reaches two million people across Russia.

In a half-hour interview, she answered questions about the expanding American military presence on Russia’s periphery and about the role American support for democracy might have played in the ousting of governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

Alexei Venediktov, editor in chief and the host, asked her pointedly if the United States was trying to export democracy the way the Soviet Union sought to export socialist revolution. “There’s an important difference here,” she said. “You do not actually have to export democracy.”

She said democracy rose from within a state, though the United States had supported private organizations and institutions in some countries to move the process along. “We see this as not a zero-sum game but one in which everyone has much to gain,” she said.

Ms. Rice bantered occasionally with Mr. Venediktov in Russian, which she has studied, but she apologized for speaking largely in English, saying she felt too intimidated by Russian grammar to feel comfortable speaking Russian for the whole interview.”

That reported statement of Dr Rice’s words is the closest to an admission of non-fluency in Russian that I have seen.

Eileen Younghusband Tells the WWII Story of the RAF Filter Rooms

28 February 2011

Eileen Younghusband’s 2009 autobiography (Not an Ordinary Life, ISBN 987-0-9561156-9-0) dealt with her long and fruitful life. However, she chose to make this very specific statement in her Dedication:

“I have written this book for all the young woman who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in the Filter Rooms of RAF Fighter Command in the dark days of world war two and whose work and dedication have never been fully recognised.”

With the encouragement of some of her readers, including the iconic WWII personality Dame Vera Lynn, that largely untold story, dealt with briefly in her chapter on ‘My Time in the WAAF’ (pp. 36-54) has now been expanded and published as an important contribution to the history of World War II as One Woman’s War (Candy Jar Books Ltd, ISBN 978-0-9566826-2-8)

Although writing book reviews is one of my favourite hobbies, I do not intend to review this special book, mainly because others have already offered their expert comments on the importance of the story and Eileen’s skill in telling it. As a friend of Eileen’s of many years standing, I am happy to relay Eileen’s own words and to quote the recommendations of eminent wellwishers.

Eileen’s Dedication for her latest book reiterates and confirms her earlier determination to tell this vital wartime episode in which she played her part:

“This book is dedicated to the airwomen and officers of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force who worked in the Filter Rooms of RAF Fighter Command during World War Two. The Filter Room was the nerve centre of the Radar chain. These young women working underground, at speed, both night and day, calculated from Radar reports the position, height and numbers of all aircraft approaching our coast. From this information, hostile aircraft were intercepted, air raid warnings given and air sea rescue undertaken. They remained silent under the Official Secrets Act for thirty years. The story of their work has never been told. It is time to recognise their invaluable contribution to the successful defence of Great Britain in its darkest hour.”

Two experts assess Eileen’s work:

“In her autobiography, Not an Ordinary Life, Eileen Younghusband gave us a glimpse into the wartime experiences of a WAAF Special Duties Officer engaged in vital work in the Filter Rooms of Fighter Command, and later, in Belgium helping to track the deadly V-2 rockets back to their firing sites. In One Woman’s War, this vital period in the life of this country, is described in considerable detail, and constitutes an important personal account of an aspect of women’s contribution to the Allied victory in 1945 that is often overlooked or not known about at all. The work that went on in the Filter Room was crucial to the ultimate success of Fighter Command operations during the Battle of Britain, demanding the highest level of concentration and competence from the women engaged in it. This personal account also provides a fascinating insight into the creation and operation of the Chain Home defence system and the wartime development of Radar, written by one who was among the first to have to get to grips with this unprecedented leap forward in wartime technology.

The view from the Filter Room’ shows us the progress of the war in Europe in a new light, and the book also tells a very human story of how momentous events shaped the life of a young woman in wartime Britain.”
Stephen Walton (Senior Curator Documents and Sound Section, Imperial War Museum Duxford)

“Brilliantly written and eminently readable, the title One Woman’s War belies the amazing and rare wartime career path of Eileen Le Croissette in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. This is no ordinary story, to become a Filterer Officer required great aptitude, skill and judgement to interpret the often-confusing information from the Radar stations. Altogether there were probably less than 200 WAAF Filterer Officers and Eileen was one of only eight to serve in Belgium targeting the V2 missile launch sites. As well as serving at 11 Group Filter room, Fighter Command on the night of the Normandy invasion, she later received the Big Ben warning when the first V2 was detected approaching London.

Married only a few weeks, Eileen was then posted to 33 Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force in Belgium, as a carefully chosen team sent to locate mobile V2 launch sites, by Radar and sound data, so airborne strikes could destroy the launchers before they returned to base. As war ends, she is assigned as a guide to the German concentration camp near Brussels. Not only facing the stark reminders of torture and human degradation, she suffered insults and antagonism from the imprisoned Belgian collaborators who replaced the camp inmates. The whole story is set against an intriguing backdrop of family and long-time friendships and correspondence with German and French pen pals, which in retrospect, contained many different perspectives on the Nazi regime.” Squadron Leader Mike S. Dean MBE (Historical Radar Archive)

Equally valuable, and even more warm and personal (as the following brief extracts testify) is the Foreword by Emma Soames, a grand-daughter of Winston Churchill.

“Her recounting of the war is extraordinary in its detail and reads as freshly as if it all happened a couple of years ago. It also explains the technicalities of how Radar worked then in accessible language. We should be thankful not only for Younghusband’s skill and the role she played then, but for her prodigious memory and energy that has produced this interesting volume.

As a grandchild of Sir Winston Churchill, I have a particular interest in her war experiences. She plotted one of Churchill’s flights when he was travelling back to Britain in an unidentified aircraft from a visit to Roosevelt in Washington. Towards the end of the war, after several promotions she ended up as an Officer at the most significant station, Stanmore which was responsible for the defence of London from incoming aerial attack. Here she saw my grandfather again.

One Woman’s War adds to the war archive that becomes increasingly important as the participants in the 1939-45 war gradually age and pass away, many of them taking their memories with them. As well as producing this readable account of her years in uniform, Eileen Younghusband has brought an extraordinary period and a previously unrecorded part of our air defences to life.”

It gives me great personal pleasure to present these extracts from the Exclusive Advance Edition of Eileen Younghusband’s latest absorbing and useful contribution to the history of the Second World War.