University of Oxford
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L.A.C Betty L. Sherwood, WAAF

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 18:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Betty L. Sherwood was born in October 1922 in Devon, where her mother had gone home to her mother to have the baby. The family lived in Henley where her father was a professional squash player.

After completing a secretarial course Betty worked as a shorthand typist in a solicitor's office in Reading, but moved to another office job in Henley which meant much easier travelling. Dancing in the Katherine Wheel Hotel in Henley was her favourite recreation.

At the outbreak of war the family moved to Wokingham as the squash courts were closed for the duration. Betty took a job in Winnersh which she did not like very much and so voluntarily enlisted in the WAAF in September 1941. That way you stood a chance of being in a job with your qualifications.

Betty trained at the WAAF Training Centre at RAF Bridgnorth and because she was 'trained' as a secretary was able to get a posting to Fighter Gp HQ near Preston. She took the bus to Blackpool Tower Ballroom to keep in her love of dancing. Betty's mother had a bout of ill health and Betty applied for a posting nearer home to help out. She was sent to RAF Bracknell, Hq Army Co-Operation Command. Army Co-Op Command was disbanded and she was very lucky to be selected to stay on and see the birth of the 2nd Tactical Air Force.

In 1944 two of the WAAFs were selected for a special job, no details were given, later found to be associated with the D-Day landings. She was later transferred to HQ Fighter Command at Stanmore. A few weeks after D-Day information came round that one of the girls from Allied Expeditionary Air Force Advanced Headquarters was unable to go to France, Betty volunteered and she was given a 48 hour pass to see her parents. Betty did not tell them about the posting, the first they knew was an article in the local paper. Betty was assigned as a shorthand typist to one of the Intelligence Officers near Laval. Betty's next move was to Versailles, her unit having joined Supreme Headquarters (SHAEF), working in the Trianon Palace. Betty later said even though it was wartime - concerts, theatre visits, opera, ice skating and nice restaurants and of course dancing, were wonderful. The next move to Rheims saw the war ending.

Betty kept her Service of Thanksgiving Order of Service, autographed by General Eisenhower and Air Chief Marshal Tedder. Betty also kept her SHAEF badge and pass. The unit then moved to Frankfurt, Germany in the I.G. Farben building. A very short stay in the American zone saw Betty move Buckeburg, back to 2nd TAF Hq, working in the Chief Engineers department. After sorting out beds, kit and dining the WAAFs saw a notice about a dance being held by the boys on the communication squadron out at the airfield. No civilian clothes, off the girls went in uniform, in the transport provided (no-one was allowed out on their own).

Betty danced several times with a 'tall, slim, bespectacled corporal' called James Savage, later to become her husband. James Savage has an entry of his own in this project. They spent evenings together dancing at the Malcolm Club. The war was over and VJ was celebrated in Germany. She had to wait for her demobilisation number to be called. Betty attended one of the Nuremburg trials. James was demobbed first, Betty actually did the paperwork once they were both back in England. Betty then applied for leave on becoming engaged to James and a home posting was arranged. Betty and James married on the 1st January 1946 in Wokingham.

Betty died peacefully in Suffolk, aged 97.


Item list and details

1. Betty's dog tags. 2. Betty, WAAF 1944, leaving for France. 3. Betty, SHAEF. 4. Souvenir badge of Versailles. 5. Betty and James's wedding 1946. 6. Betty Sherwood medals and ribbons

Person the story/items relate to

Betty L. Sherwood

Person who shared the story/items

Christine Edbury and Gillian Hoy

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

She was our mother

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID