AN ENNISKILLEN woman’s quest to find out more about her mother has grown into a wider project celebrating the role women played in Fermanagh’s war time past.
Researcher Jennifer Forde is helping the woman find out more about her mother, who was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), part of the RAF, during World War II and was based at Castle Archdale.
The mother, who Jennifer refers to only as ‘Marie’ due to the family sensitivities involved, fell pregnant twice while serving here and both children given into care.
Now, Jennifer is on a mission to find out more, not just about Marie herself, but the overall role of women during the war and is asking the people of Fermanagh to help in her quest.
“I’m trying to piece together what happened in the war to try to see if we can answer the big questions like who was the father [of Marie’s children],” said Jennifer. “But it’s also a story that celebrates women as unsung heroes and their contribution, and the difficult choices they have to make, and how that often doesn’t get talked about.”
Explaining how Marie also served as a NAAFI driver in Gloucester after the war, Jennifer said she had also been based for a time at the RAF bases in Limavady and Ballykelly. As such, Jennifer and Marie’s daughter are seeking information and memories from anyone who served “in any capacity at any RAF base in the North.”
“Maire was a Dublin girl, nicknamed ‘Rebel’ or ‘Paddy’ on the base because she was from the Republic,” said Jennifer. “She joined up in Liverpool, and during the war spend time in the Balloon Command in London, later in mechanical transport, and was then part of coastal command which took her to Ballykelly, Limavady and Castle Archdale in Northern Ireland, St Athan in Wales, and eventually to Leuchars in Scotland.
“We would love to speak to people about their own memories of life on any RAF base during the war.”
Jennifer added: “The great hope, obviously, is that somebody worked with Marie and remembered her and could even answer questions about that, but that is such a long shot it would still be incredible to find anybody who worked on any of the bases.”
Were you or a family member in the WAAFs, RAF or the NAAFI, or play a role in keeping life on the base going? Or, do you recognise anyone in these photos of Marie? If you have any memories to share or know someone who does, call Jennifer on 07906 893 823, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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