Brilliantly written and eminently readable, the title “One Woman’s War” belies the amazing and rare wartime career path of Eileen Le Croissette in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. This is no ordinary story, to become a Filterer Officer required great aptitude, skill and judgement to interpret the often-confusing information from the Radar stations. Altogether there were probably less than 200 WAAF Filterer Officers and Eileen was one of only eight to serve in Belgium targeting the V2 missile launch sites. As well as serving at 11 Group Filter room, Fighter Command on the night of the Normandy invasion, she later received the Big Ben warning when the first V2 was detected approaching London.
Married only a few weeks, Eileen was then posted to 33 Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force in Belgium, as a carefully chosen team sent to locate mobile V2 launch sites, by Radar and sound data, so airborne strikes could destroy the launchers before they returned to base. As war ends, she is assigned as a guide to the German concentration camp near Brussels. Not only facing the stark reminders of torture and human degradation, she suffers insults and antagonism from the imprisoned Belgian collaborators who replaced the camp inmates.
The whole story is set against an intriguing backdrop of family and long-time friendshIps and correspondence with German and French pen pals, which in retrospect, contained many different perspectives on the Nazi regime.
Squadron Leader Mike S. Dean MBE (Historical Radar Archive)
Then, venturing abroad again, she saw firsthand the post war desolation of Europe. This is a story of great events – but it is also the story of how those great events shaped and transformed the life of a young London office worker.
This is a remarkable memoir. A personal story intimatley entwined with the great events of the Second World War. As a naive teenager exchanged student, Eileen Younghusband saw Nazi Germany in the months before war broke out. Returning on the eve of war she later took a crucial role in the British Radar operations.
Nick Skinner (BBC Wales)
In her autobiography, “Not an Ordinary Life”, Eileen Younghusband gave us a glimpse into the wartime experiences of a WAAF Special Duties Officer engaged in vital work in the Filter Rooms of Fighter Command, and later, in Belgium helping to track the deadly V-2 rockets back to their firing sites.
In “One Woman’s War”, this vital period in the life of this country, is described in considerable detail, and constitutes an important personal account of an aspect of women’s contribution to the Allied victory in 1945 that is often overlooked or not known about at all. The work that went on in the Filter Room was crucial to the ultimate success of Fighter Command operations during the Battle of Britain, demanding the highest level of concentration and competence from the women engaged in it.
This personal account also provides a fascinating insight into the creation and operation of the Chain Home defence system and the wartime development of Radar, written by one who was among the first to have to get to grips with this unprecedented leap forward in wartime technology. The view from the Filter Room shows us the progress of the war in Europe in a new light, and the book also tells a very human story of how momentous events shaped the life of a young woman in wartime Britain.
Stephen Walton (Senior Curator Documents and Sound Section, Imperial War Museum Duxford)
Eileen Younghusband does not mess around with metaphor or shifting time patterns. And she wouldn’t know how to write a sentimental sentence. Instead, she gets straight to the heart of what was taking you through her war years in a voice that is bright as the buffed-up buttons on her officer’s uniform. You don’t so much read the twenty-nine chapters as keep coming back to hear her tell you, with disarming honesty, intelligence, and wit, another episode of a story that needs to be told. Listen. It is different from the rest.
Amanda Rackstraw (Creative Writing Tutor, Cardiff University)
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