Former Valley veteran and unsung hero of WW2 set to celebrate 100th birthday

A former Whalley woman who served in the Womens Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War will mark her 100th birthday tomorrow (December 23rd).

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 3:45 pm
Mrs Evelyn Armstrong is set to mark the milestone tomorrow

Mrs Evelyn Armstrong, who now lives in Duns in the Scottish Borders, received a congratulatory letter from Station Commander RAF Boulmer, Group Captain David Keighley, on behalf of the Royal Air Force.

Evelyn attended Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, but declined to go on to university in preference to contributing financially at home. She worked in a solicitor’s office in Blackburn later moving to the Post Office as a telephone operator where she was a colleague of the, then unknown, operatic contralto Kathleen Ferrier.

In 1941 Evelyn joined the WAAF and trained at RAF Innsworth before being posted to No 1 Group Bomber Command at Bawtry Hall in South Yorkshire, where she worked as a Filter Officer, or plotter.

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Mrs Evelyn Armstrong

It was here, during a night time raid over Berlin, she was filmed at work monitoring the progress of our planes on the large RAF plotting table with her “croupier” stick in hand and surrounded by Bakelite telephones and charts for the film “Prelude to Victory”.

She was working as a plotter during D-Day and well remembers 617 Squadron going back and forth over the English Channel dropping “window “which was designed to disrupt the German radar equipment.

She returned to the Bawtry area and met her future husband Malcom Armstrong during a Tri Services quiz night in Doncaster, after he had returned from army service in India and was waiting to be demobbed so he could resume his journalistic career. They went on to have two children. She wrote a weekly newspaper column under the name of Catherine Ross before training to become a teacher at Edge Hill College of Higher Education, before becoming a teacher at a school in Ebchester in County Durham, finally retiring to the Scottish Borders where she still lives.

A spokesman said: "Evelyn has always been a spirited and resourceful person. Despite her great age, she lives independently near Duns and only recently gave up driving! She has five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

"Despite the darkness of the Second World War, she describes her time in the WAAF as truly wonderful years which gave her many lasting friendships and a complete treasure trove of memories."