Posted tagged ‘Eileen Younghusband’

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.)

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.