Eileen rewrites war memoir to teach children
WORLD War II veteran Eileen Younghusband has rewritten her awardwinning wartime memoir for a younger audience.
Eileen, who turned 95 on Monday, hopes her story will help children understand the insecurity the world faces today and the horror caused by the Nazi regime she fought.
With post-Brexit upheaval impacting the UK and Europe, the former Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) officer believes today’s children and young people need to understand Europe’s history.
Eileen, who volunteered for the WAAF aged 19, became one of the key players in the fight against Nazi bombers.
Working in filter rooms around Britain she collected radar information identifying enemy aircraft and warning of air raids and worked at Bletchley Park where German secret codes were broken.
Her original book, One Woman’s War, published in 2011, won the People’s Book Prize and included contributions from wartime soldiers’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn and Winston Churchill’s granddaughter Emma Soames.
Eileen, from Sully in the Vale of Glamorgan, hopes her children’s version will be a “legacy book” to help future generations understand the causes and consequences of war.
“It is my hope that all children will read my book. I think it is really important to engage with young people about World War II.
“World War II was a pivotal moment in our history.
“I feel my book helps to make a sense of the insecurities we all face at the moment.
“In truth I am not going to be around forever but if my story can live on from generation to generation this will be wonderful. ”
Leaving school at 16, Eileen, who finally gained a degree aged 85, couldn’t afford to go to university as a teenager.
Instead she joined the RAF as a “clerk special duties” and had to sign the Official Secrets Act to work in the top-secret filter room collecting radar information key to fighting the Nazis.
A talented linguist and mathematician, she was sent to Belgium in the dying days of the war to calculate where Nazi rockets were being fired from with no more than a slide rule to help her.
After liberation she stayed to translate at the Breendonk concentration camp to help log atrocities committed there.
During her work in the filter rooms she saw the invasion fleet heading for the D-Day landings and received the coded warning of the first V2 rocket attack on London.
“Our calculations not only told the pilots in their Spitfires and Hurricanes where to find the enemy, we also determined where air raid warnings would be sounded and where rescue boats would be sent to pick up downed Allied airmen. Truly these were life-and-death decisions,” she said.
Eileen, who was one of the small group of veterans asked to speak at the Battle of Britain memorial service in St Paul’s Cathedral, said she had always believed women’s contribution to winning the war has not had enough attention.
“When I wrote One Woman’s War I wanted to shine a light on the work done by the women of the filter room. At the time our position in history had almost been forgotten. Now I am so proud that the women’s contribution has been acknowledged.” ■ Eileen’s War by Eileen Younghusband is published by Candy Jar Books priced £6.99. It is available from www.candyjarbooks.co.uk