TENDER COMRADES - THE GIRLS ON THE GROUND

SECTION OFFICER, (LATER FLIGHT OFFICER),

MARIE COOPER, WAAF.

INTELLIGENCE/OPS.

The account to be found in the PDF file below came my way via a large collection of photographs and much written material purchased by chance some years ago. Although it is known that Marie Cooper, subsequently Claridge, has been of considerable assistance to certain authors over time, her present whereabouts - indeed if she is still with us - is, sadly, not known to me.

It would be the greatest of good fortune if she herself happened to discover this website and got in touch. The next best thing that could be hoped for is that someone visited who either knows her, or has more up to date information regarding this stalwart lady's present circumstance. If so, do please leave a message via our GUESTBOOK page, or, alternatively, email me privately at the email address shown at the foot of each page of this website.

It is a sincere wish that the inclusion of this extract from her story will cause no offence or distress, as that was far from my intention. It is provided for its content and obvious merit, giving us as it does a fascinating insight on the service life of an Intelligence/Ops WAAF Officer in Bomber Command. It remains largely unedited, and certain of her opinions that may be found by some unusual now have remained unmolested. I feel we should always remember that history was happening THEN not NOW, and all should be allowed the freedom to be children of their own particular generation.

Her eloquent prose sharply defines the tenuous bitter-sweetness of wartime friendships and liaisons. Often fleeting and with little time to become established; the characters and idiosyncrasies of those she was given time to observe more closely are most poignantly described. As will be seen, her encounter with an angry Bomber Captain from another Squadron is also a reminder that these were young girls cast into a very much male environment with all that this implied; undoubtedly much heightened by the prospect of these men's possible early and often violent deaths.

The WAAF were certainly not immune to to the effect operations had on the aircrew, nor to the inevitable losses to which all were exposed. Grief gave wings to all ranks and none were above Providence.

From her account it is reasonably clear that Marie Cooper had seen service at Limavady, a Coastal Command station in Northern Ireland. From here, she was posted to Bottesford, a No. 5 Group bomber base in Leicestershire, around the middle of 1942. No. 207 Squadron were then in residence, and it is their Officers and Men that she came to know in a way not now experienced by many young women in a world at peace. She was to remain with No. 207 at Bottesford for some months, and, via a spell at nearby Langar with them, was posted back to Bottesford when No. 467 (RAAF) Squadron arrived in November of 1942. At that point, with the arrival of the Australians, the episode of her service career that follows comes to an end.

Appended can be found the known fates and certain photographs of some mentioned by Marie Cooper in her most interesting account

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