LAST week we left our young NAAFI recruit as she'd just decided "to get up and go'' to work in NAAFI British Families' shops in Germany.
Mrs. J. Hill (nee Meacher), formerly, of Wolverhampton and now living in Little Dawley, Telford, continues her story. You may recall that her first taste of NAAFI life was at Donnington, in Shropshire. It wasn't all work and no play as she often went to "local camp site dances - a nightmare with those boys in hob-nailed boots !'' A spell at Cosford "3 Wing'' followed, which meant she was closer for visits to her family in Wolverhampton. But, never one to stand still, Mrs. Hill answered the call to work in post war Germany.
She continues: "I was accepted and went to Wrexham, Cefn Hall, where we were kitted out with all new uniforms, undies, a suitcase - for the draft in 1946.'' It was a case of making ''all new friends from other areas of England'', all over again. She went, she says, ''firstly to Iserlohn - Buckeburg - Osnabruck - and Bad Lipspringe, where I made friends with a girl from Shrewsbury. We both had our leaves in June and January, so it enabled us to come home together and had visits to each other's homes during our three weeks, which was nice.
Also, we had 72 hour leaves, going to Berlin, Bad Hartsburg for the skiing and Munich for sightseeing. And, as the shop hours were 9am -12 noon, and 2-4pm, we had time to visit the local countryside on bicycles. Sadly, as our postings came, we had to part, Eileen's to Graz, and mine to the Hook of Holland. The shop there was busy, customers from RAF Eindhoven, and the military around the docks, with the leave boats in an out. Also, the NAAFI staff who served on the leave trains.
Mrs. Hill enjoyed her time abroad, as she recalls: ''Our nearest shopping centre was The Hague, which we all enjoyed going to. The cinema had English sub-titles, there was a C&A shop for clothes etc, and the palace to see, a lively city!
Well, they say all good things must come to an end, and so, in June 1951, I decided to go back home and pick up civilian life again. So, sadly, I said goodbye to Paddy, in the Sports shop next door, the other NAAFI staff in the hostel, and my Dutch assistant, and headed to Ruxley Towers in Esher, Surrey, for my final discharge papers.
They even asked me to re-consider, and offered a posting to Salisbury Plain, but my mind was on Home Sweet Home. They say what goes around comes around, and since 1954 I made Shropshire my home. And, when I'm on the Newport bus and pass by Donnington memories come back to me again''.
Many thanks to Mrs. Hill for her fascinating memories of Naafi life in the 40s and 50s.