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For the Duration

A Lighthearted WAAF Memoir

by Felicity Ashbee

Publication Year: 2012

A rare and entertaining look at Felicity Ashbee's experiences as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during World War II

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Frontispiece, Dedication

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pp. ix

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xv

Felicity Ashbee was born in Broad Campden, England, a village in the Cotswolds, on 22 February 1913. Her father was the prominent architect and designer Charles Robert Ashbee, a leading exponent of the Arts and Crafts movement. Felicity had many different talents and was active in...

Part 1: The Best Kept Secret (In the Ranks): September 1939–June 1941

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1. Beginnings: 1939–1940

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pp. 3-21

“War?” my American friends had said, “What war?” “Hitler,” I replied. “There isn’t going to be a war,” they repeated complacently. But I knew better. On a recent student holiday in Austria and Germany I had seen the Nazis in action. For a brief visit to a sister recently married...

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2. The Phoney War Turns Real: 1940–1941

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pp. 22-33

Britain was lucky to have had the breathing space of the “Phoney War” to get its act together before things really heated up. The vulnerability of Bentley Priory must have been a recurrent nightmare of the Defence chiefs during those bitter...

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3. Raids and Recreation: 1941

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pp. 34-47

By August the Battle of Britain, as it came to be called, was at its peak. I remember thinking how silly it was to label it that way, as if it were a single battle, like Agincourt or Waterloo, whereas in fact it went on day after day, with alerts...

Part 2: The Officer Type? (Commissioned): June 1941–February 1944

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pp. 49-106

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4. Intelligence: 1941-1942

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pp. 51-67

Whatever vague and romantic ideas might have been floating through my mind at the thought of an Intelligence Commission (Blonde spies? Secret agents? My foreign languages used in some unexpectedly exciting...

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5. A/S/O Admin: 1942

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pp. 68-81

The Loughborough course was almost totally unmemorable, apart from the fact that it was in the purpose-built premises of the new Loughborough Training College, which had a swimming pool with one glass wall. This was startlingly...

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6. The S/O Is Learning: 1942-1943

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pp. 82-96

And when there was some time off, there was always the Hampshire countryside waiting to be discovered, its empty meadows to be wandered over, its little villages to be cycled through. Broughton was one of these, also mentioned...

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7. Via Windermere to “Y”: 1943-1944

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pp. 97-106

It was really rather surprising that the RAF should have requisitioned what must, after all, have been a hotel of some standing in a beauty spot such as Lake Windermere for the unlikely purpose of a series of WAAF Officer Refresher...

Part 3: From the Sticks to the Cradle: February 1944–July 1946

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pp. 107-172

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8. The Glint of Roman Spears: 1944

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pp. 109-122

Travelling by train was a slow process during the war years. Even if it were not a question of an air raid happening, or of the lines having been disrupted by a recent attack, troop trains or trains carrying vital supplies usually...

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9. Southward Ho!: 1944-1945

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pp. 123-144

RAF Stenigot, though another of the first generation of CH Radar Stations, was at least a little nearer civilization, and I felt a lightening of the spirit as the train brought me southwards, finally depositing me in...

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10. Winding Down: 1945

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pp. 145-157

It was in February 1945 that I arrived at RAF Cranwell.1 At about the same time, Roosevelt and Stalin sat down together at the Yalta Conference to plan Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender. British troops were reaching the Rhine...

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11. And OUT!: 1945-1946

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pp. 158-172

Meanwhile the members of my own family were scattered over various parts of the country, not to mention sister Helen still in America. Godden Green, the big family home in Kent, which had been commandeered...

Felicity Ashbee: A Chronology

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pp. 173-179

Appendix A: Other Poems and Song Parodies Written During World War II

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pp. 181-191

Appendix B: Show Log Book

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pp. 193-199

Appendix C: Three Drama Sketches

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pp. 201-213

Bibliography and Suggested Readings

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pp. 215

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815651666
E-ISBN-10: 081565166X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609711
Print-ISBN-10: 081560971X

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 42 black & white
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Women -- Great Britain.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, British.
  • Great Britain. Women's Auxiliary Air Force -- Biography.
  • Ashbee, Felicity.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Aerial operations, British.
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