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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).
WRAF Crest
WRAF Career of Mrs Rhoda Lazenby

Rhoda would be delighted to hear from others who knew or served with her. Please contact us in the first instance and we will forward your contact details.


I joined the WRAF in December 1951, my surname then was Dent. Went for training at Wilmslow, 8 weeks. It was very cold and we only had one stove for the whole hut. We took it in turns to light this stove the best way we could as the coal was in a shelter flooded with water. 

It was hard work, none of us enjoyed going to bed, in fact we did keep some of our clothes on to keep warm. No central heating here. We were (some of us) sat around the stove ready for bed when we heard the duty officer coming round to check that we were in bed. You never saw such a scuffle, most of us jumped into bed with slippers on only half dressed and the officer came to my bed and put the sheet over my shoulders. It was hard work to keep quiet. After she had gone out we all started laughing (I wonder if she knew what had happened).


      


At meal times most of us came back from the mess with bulging tunics, (something for supper).  I made one or two friends there, one girl was called May Clough, she was from Keighley and another girl called Edna Vest. After training at Wilmslow we all went different ways on leave. I was on a train at Manchester for Goole, arriving at Doncaster I noticed all the flags were flying half mast. I couldn't understand why, so when we stopped at Doncaster I asked a porter about this and he told me the “King has Died”. I couldn't believe it, this was 6th February 1952 - I have never forgotten that date.

After my leave I went to RAF Feltwell FTC and spent the rest of my service life there. My trade was Batwoman/waitress in No1. Officers Mess. It was hard work but enjoyable, especially when it was the Spring, Summer and Winter balls. They all congregated in the large dining room where the dancing was and then in the Billiard room where all the food was. We kept out of the way but were there in the servery if we were wanted for anything. 

I met some nice officers and wives and once worked at Group Captain Rump's residence for a while. I was made up to Corporal in less than two years. (I worked hard for that) more money of course. Our Sgt. in the WRAF block was Sgt. Buchanan, 5ft nothing like me. She was very good. I wonder if Kitty Voller is still around somewhere, Edith Smith, Doreen Pearce, thats only a few, we had good times.

I married Red Sudell in 1958, but he suddenly died in 1981.

If anyone reads this who were at Feltwell at the same time as I was, they will remember him. A very good showman. He got an orchestra together and put variety shows all on camp. Everybody liked him he was such a jolly person. I am still in touch with Grace Smith and whereabouts is Amy Coulthard she came from Goole (where I now live). I enjoyed my service life very much and often think about all the good times and the fun we had both in the mess and WRAF block.

Hope you all enjoy reading this.

Mrs Rhoda Lazenby (née Sudell before I married for the second time).

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: 23 August 2014, 14:54