Olive Rippengal

'I wouldn't have had a clue how to be a spy'

Olive Rippengals tells of the day she offered to become a spy.

Recollections of war work at the War Office and hopes of becoming a spy.

A life as a spy?

At the outbreak of war Olive was twenty years old and keen to become part of the war effort. After losing her job in the London office of Strada Works Liverpool, Olive was determined to become more directly involved in the war: ‘Early in September 1939 I walked into the main entrance in the war office in Whitehall and offered to be a spy. They did not think I was quite the type and suggested I might be a shorthand typist.'

‘Early in September 1939 I walked into the main entrance into the war office in Whitehall and offered to be a spy.'

Wartime commuting

Although not employed as a spy, Olive found work at the War Office. She remained in her position at the Department of Military Intelligence for Germany until she began work at the Wings Commission in Piccadilly, dealing with incoming claims. Following this she dealt with surplus stores and then moved between various departments. Olive recalls how living in Beckenham, commuting into London for work in wartime was not always easy:

‘I used to walk on to the road here because it was no good going to the station. It was quarter hours walk to the station by the time you got there, there weren’t any trains running. So I used to walk out on to the road... I walked out on to the road and awaited a car. I might not have got the first car but I got a car and they used to take me to London’.

Air raids

Although Olive believes she did not suffer much from the war, she recalls the frequent air raids over London, especially the doodlebugs:

‘With the doodlebugs you couldn’t do anything. I was walking across the Horse Guards Parade one day and you could hear when they cut out. A doodlebug cut out and it was no good running anywhere cos you didn’t know where it was going so I continued walking and it landed on Adastral House. That was a terrible one because it was in middle of the lunch hour.’

Downloads

Interview with Olive Rippengal
Interview with Olive Rippengal (238k)
To read the full transcript of Olive's interview please press the above link.

'I wouldn't have had a clue how to be a spy'
'I wouldn't have had a clue how to be a spy' (37k)
Transcript of audio clip with Olive Rippengal.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 20/02/2012.

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