Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Having a Go at 'The Hun' Efforts of ATS Girls Were Vital to Defeating Nazi Forces

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Having a Go at 'The Hun' Efforts of ATS Girls Were Vital to Defeating Nazi Forces

Article excerpt

FOR obvious reasons RAF Spitfire and Hurricane pilots - The Few - take the credit for winning the Battle of Britain and defending our shores against the Nazis during the Second World War. But we should not forget the contribution by the Home Guard and, especially, the anti-aircraft gunners and the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) girls.

Once the first Luftwaffe bombers and fighters crossed our coast the anti-aircraft guns were in constant action. The guns were initially manned by all-male crews but soon they were joined by ATS girls, many from the North East, who 'wanted to have a go at the Hun'.

In 1943 a Chronicle reporter toured gun sites around the country and was amazed and impressed by the large number of Geordie girls serving.

Many had been drafted on to sites around London and at the coast, known as 'bomb alley'.

Our reporter met a Corporal Joan (they wouldn't, or couldn't, give their full names), who revealed to him: "I worked in an engineer's shop in Newcastle before volunteering for the Army. That was in 1940. Since then I have had lots of fun.

"I shall never forget," she went on, "when my uncle's house on Tyneside was hit by a bomb. I know I was very upset and went back to the gunsite, which was near Newcastle, feeling anything but pleased.

"That night Jerry came over and this time we gave him the works. We reckon to have brought down two planes that night. Altogether, when stationed on the North East coast, I helped my battery bring down 10 Huns."

It was at first thought that women would not be able to stand up to the rigours of serving on a gunsite - but our reporter soon found this was a fallacy. He wrote: "All the girls on the sites I have visited tell me they have put on weight. As for the men they work alongside, they were, for the most part, fathers who, in many cases, had daughters of a similar age to the young girls fighting beside them."

A sergeant from Sunderland told our reporter: "Yes, the lassies like their dancing and the lads enjoy their football. As a matter of fact when enjoying themselves, neither gunners or ATS forget their real jobs. …

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