Eileen Powles

Photo:Eileen Powles on Armistice Day 1995.

Eileen Powles on Armistice Day 1995.

Eileen Powles

Reserved occupation

Eileen Powles recalls being released from a reserved occupation to join the services.

Service overseas

Eileen Powles recalls volunteering for overseas service.

Service in Africa

Eileen Powles recalls her service in Africa.

Recollections of life in the ATS and overseas service.

From the Food Office to the ATS

“There’s me sitting downstairs issuing ration books and identity cards and things, itching to get away….”

Early in the war Eileen Powles was working for the Food Office in a reserved occupation, and she could not wait to join up. She got her chance – at last - in September 1942 and after training at the Signal School in Kingston she volunteered for overseas work in 1943.

Overseas service

Few women among her contemporaries could have matched the travel Eileen embarked on after her arrival in South Africa in 1943.  A mixture of postings and holidays saw Eileen in Durban, the Valley of a Thousand Hills, Suez, Cairo, Alexandria and Haifa.

What we also glean from Eileen’s account is how she spent two and a half years in Alexandria as a switchboard operator during this period she got married to a British serviceman – and equally quickly separated and divorced.

Eileen stayed with the service after the end of the war and in 1946 she again volunteered for overseas service. She was posted to Germany, remaining there until 1949 where she achieved the rank of sergeant. Eileen describes some aspects of the reconstruction of Germany, although she admits to being somewhat distant from it.

A positive experience

Eileen’s recollections of her war service are incredibly upbeat and serve as a timely reminder that for some the war was essentially an enriching and positive experience. For Eileen what stands out is the “comradeship” she experience during the war and subsequently through membership of organisations like the British Army Association. To the listener her recollections offer much more besides,  some insights are expected – like the changing roles, experiences and attitudes of and towards women - and others, such as ways while in South Africa she managed to foil practices of apartheid – less so.

Downloads

Interview with Eileen Powles
Interview with Eileen Powles (170k)
To read the full transcript of Eileen's interview please press the above link.

Reserved occupation
Reserved occupation (75k)
Transcript of audio clip with Eileen Powles.

Service overseas
Service overseas (89k)
Transcript of audio clip with Eileen Powles.

Service in Africa
Service in Africa (79k)
Transcript of audio clip with Eileen Powles.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 23/04/2012.

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