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WAAF and WRAF

The Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was formed in 1939, growing to approximately 180,000 by 1943, serving duties vital to the war effort in meteorology, transport, telephony and telegraphy, codes and ciphers, Intelligence, Security and Operation Rooms. In 1949 it was reformed as Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF).
WAAF Crest
WAAF Edith Kup: Plotter and Intelligence Officer

This is a recorded interview made by the Imperial War Museum with WAAF Edith Kup. It is particularly moving in its description of her as a Plotter listening to her fiancé, the very young Dennis Wissler, in action as a fighter pilot and hearing his voice as he was being shot down. Her worst fears were realized when she learned shortly afterwards he had been killed.

Edith was a British aircraftwoman who served at RAF Debden 1939-1941. She was later an Intelligence officer with 405 Squadron, RAF and with Headquarters, 92 Group, RAF in 1941-1945. 

Summary of Interview


The interview gives her background in 1918-1939 including her family and education; declaration of Second World War, 9/1939. Aspects of enlistment and training with Women's Auxiliary Air Force in GB, 1939: enlistment in Women's Auxiliary Air Force, 9/1939; training at RAF Yeadon; relations between WAAFs. Recollections of period as officer at RAF Debden, GB, 11/1939-1941: journey to station and first impressions; training as Motor Transport driver; attitude of male personnel towards WAAFs; social life; training to be a radar plotter; plotting duties; duties at time of Dunkirk, 6/1940; memories of pilots, Harold Bird-Wilson and Peter Townsend; increase of work during Battle of Britain; listening to voices of pilots during combat; air raid on RAF Debden. 

Belief that GB would win Battle of Britain; memories of fiancé Dennis Wissler; death of fiancé in action 11/1940; other WAAFs who lost fiancés; bombing of house; discipline; reaction of WAAFs to bombing raids; attitude towards pilot charged with Lack of Moral Fibre; returning to Motor Transport duties. Aspects of officers training at Loughborough, GB, autumn 1941. Recollections of period to Sqdn 405, RAF at RAF Poklington, GB, 10/1941: operations duties; condition of crews on return from ops; story of pilot who fired gun at his CO. 

Pilot who fired at commanding officer; flying with air crews against the rules; attempts of air crew to make her air sick; WAAFs that went on ops against the rules; contrast between fighter and bomber pilots; position as 'Queen of Navigators'. Aspects of period as intelligence officer with Headquarters 92 Group, RAF in GB, 1943-1944: posting to RAF Bourne, near Cambridge: story of visiting a medium who gave her details of Dennis' death; duties debriefing Mosquito Oboe air crew; memories of D-Day, 6/1944; behaviour of US airmen in Cambridge; opinion of US airmen; reprimanding two US airmen who behaved badly in mess; memories of VE day, 5/1945.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 18 October 2014, 19:56