Dame Margaret Blackwood as a wing officer Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force, 1941-1945, interviewed by Joyce Thomson

Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number S00162
Collection type Sound
Measurement 2 hr 47 min
Object type Oral history
Physical description 1/4 inch sound tape reel; BASF LP 35; 3 3/4 ips/9.5 cm.s; stereo; 5 inch
Maker Blackwood, Margaret
Thomson, Joyce Aubrey
Date made 28 May 1984
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright

Item copyright: Unlicensed copyright

Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

Dame Margaret Blackwood as a wing officer Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force, 1941-1945. Blackwood discusses her education, and enlistment with the WAAAF and associated difficulties in obtaining the qualifications and posting she wanted, despite achieving a AAA rating, she was found not suitable to be an officer; working with cypher coded signals for the Director of Signals; describes the process of encrypting;becoming No. 1 Commanding Officer of WAAAF Training Depot; buttons the "wrong way" on WAAF uniforms, and other aspects of uniform and kit; barracks on Toorak; Road; numbers and types of recruits; rookie training process; discipline; "marching them in high heels from the station"; first WAAAF parade march in Melbourne; aptitude and psychological testing of recruits for best job placement; bivouac training; organisation of parade following the sinking of HMAS Sydney and HMAS Perth, including organising the hymns ; Lady Gowrie's speech to the WAAAF members; being sent to the Tasmanian WAAAF Recruiting Depot to create " a good impression" of WAAAFs there, as WAAAF's had gotten a bad reputation in Tasmania : ".. Somebody said to me that there were a hundred WAAAF at Laverton... and that ninety-nine of them were pregnant, and I thought that she was joking, and I said, 'Well, what happened to the other one?' - but they were perfectly serious, they'd heard these things.."; the nature and cause of "malicious" rumours in Townsville about the WAAAF; pay, and the slow rate of promotion in WAAAF ranks (as opposed to in the RAAF); the visit to WAAAF by Mrs Roosevelt, thrown into some disarray due to her arriving 20 minutes ahead of schedule; production and use of cinematography for and by WAAAF, including "From Peace to War" - Air Vice Marshall Hewitt said WAAAF did a better job in film making, than did the men; describes making a film of a RAAF pilot air manoeuvre by filming out the bottom of a plane; giving a leave pass to "Napoleon", a patient at the Mont Park Mental Hospital; "Snow White" the dental officer; accidental winning of the WAAAF base's Art and Craft Exhibition; food parcels to England; the end of the war, and preparing women for return to "civilian life" by doing courses in millinery, floral arrangement "and the like"; "gatecrashing" a reception held by the Dutchess of Gloucester; the apparent disconnect by men and society in general between war and post war experience, especially where senior ranking women were concerned. Dame Blackwood references by name many of the senior and lower ranking personnel she interacted with during the war.

Places mentioned include: No 1 WAAAF Depot, Mayfield Ave, Toorak VIC, Directorate of Signals, Air Force Headquarters, Victoria Barracks, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC, Auron, Clindon Rd, Toorak VIC, 606 Toorak Rd, Toorak VIC, Oakdean, Toorak Rd, Toorak VIC, St Catherine School, Hangdon Place VIC, Geelong Grammar School, Koria Railway Station, Tasmania, Townsville QLD, Lorundle in Budoora, Pearce WA.

Persons mentioned include: Mrs Bell, i/c WATC, WAAAF Panel WgCdr Radford, WgCdr Tunbridge, (National Council of Women) Director of Signals
GpCapt Wiggins. Deputy Director of Signals, WgCdr Hugh Berry, Rosemary George, Colleagues: Joan Bostok, Nancy Foster, Cynthia Letts, Mrs Risson, Dave Hawthorn, Nel Rawlins, Dorothy J Ross, Kathleen Gilman Jones, AOC No. 1 Training Group, GpCapt Hulex Hewitt, Director of WAAAF, Clare Stevenson, Tinker Salum.

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