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Monday, 5 May 2014

Militiary Memories 5: Aunt Peggy - A Woman at War

Military Memories: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Your Military AncestorsMembers of GeneaBloggers are invited to commemorate their military ancestors during  May 2014 by participating in  Military Memories: 31 writing prompts,  created by author Jennifer Holik. 

Today's theme - Women in the War  

My Aunt Peggy (1922-1989),   christened Margaret Olwyn, was the youngest daughter of William and Alice Danson, of Ppulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  She was born after the First World War, so very much the baby of the family to her much older brothers and sisters.

In World War Two she served in the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), with a note In the family photograph album that she was  in a Barrage Balloon Squadron in Hull, on the east coast of Yorkshire.  

Balloon barrages were a passive form of defence designed to force enemy raiders to fly higher, and thus bomb much less accurately.

 The barrage balloon was simply a bag of lighter-than-air gas attached to a steel cable anchored to the ground. The balloon could be raised or lowered to the desired altitude by a winch.
This simple mission provided three major benefits:
  • Forced aircraft to higher altitudes, thereby decreasing surprise and bombing accurac
  • Enhanced ground-based air defenses and the ability of fighters to acquire targets, since intruding aircrafts were limited in altitude and direction; and
  • The cable presented a definite mental and material hazard to pilots.
 [Source:  Barrage Balloons]

In Hull during 1942 members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force replaced some 60% of the men, who  assisted in the training of WAAF at the Centre while others dealt with maintenance on the Sites. The Hull Barrage continued to fly until the 31st July 1944 when the Squadron with all their equipment was sent to the south east of England to become part of the Anti-Diver Barrage against the V1 Flying Bombs.

[Source:  Hull Barrage Balloon Squadron] 

In Hull, Peggy  met her husband  - Harry Constable, known as Con and after their marriage in 1949, they emigrated to Australia - settling near Melbourne.  Two sons were born Ian and Philip.

In 1980 she made her only visit back to Britain.  Sadly following her death, contact with the Australian branch of the family was lost.  

Aunt Peggy (left) with a WAAF friend

Peggy with her mother Alice
The Danson family , c.1941 - Edith, Peggy, William & Alice, Harry and Kathleen
with son Billy absent.

 Peggy with her sons Philip and Ian - my Australian cousins, c.1954.

Peggy in the Scottish Borders, c.1980 - when we last met. 

Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

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