Vera King, a well respected WWII veteran, celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday, January 3rd.
Vera enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, “the WAAF”, in 1939 and served through to the end of the war in 1945.
Having exceptionally fast shorthand skills, her services were much in demand and her repeated applications for overseas service were always declined. After D Day, in September 1944, Vera made another application which was immediately accepted.
At RAF West Kirby, she joined a draft being prepared to go by sea to the South East Asia sector. Following interviews, Vera and a woman from the Women’s Royal Navy Service, “the Wrens”, were selected to fly out to Ceylon, in advance of the main party.
They, two servicemen and two war correspondents were given exclusive use of Lord Louis Mountbatten’s, then Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, personal aircraft, an Avro York, As the aircraft’s identity was known by the staging airfields en-route, they were always treated to a red-carpet reception, even though Lord Mountbatten was not on board!
There the women joined Lord Mountbatten’s staff, taking dictation from him and the senior officers at the SEA Allied Forces Headquarters. Their duties included typing signals, reports and even some of his personal letters to “My dear Cousin Bertie”, King George VI, and others.
The women were well outnumbered by servicemen so were very popular. Vera was already engaged to be married but was able to enjoy a good social life.
Following the capitulation of the Japanese forces, Lord Mountbatten moved his Headquarters to Singapore. Vera was responsible for packing up the furniture and equipment and sending them on before she returned to the UK.
After she left the WAAF, Vera got a job with an airline based at Speke Airport that was eventually absorbed into British European Airways.
With her move to Bognor Regis, Vera joined the Branch and was a founder member of its WAAF’s Group. She continued to be the driving force behind the Group until it disbanded in 2017, the year in which Vera received the badge recognizing her 60 years of membership of the RAF Association.
Covid-19 restrictions prevented the Branch from celebrating her birthday as we would have wished. David Hewings, Secretary, Bognor Regis Branch said:
“Vera has received birthday wishes from Air Marshal Sir Baz North, President of the Association. But COVID-19 restrictions prevented the branch from celebrating her birthday as we would have wished. We will certainly be making amends when the restrictions are lifted. Suffice it to say, Vera King remains one of our most respected and loved members.”
Find out more about Vera’s story by listening to her audio reels courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.