Female Bishop's Stortford veterans share their Second World War memories
Some of Bishop’s Stortford’s oldest female residents have shared their memories of the Second World War with the chairman of the town’s Royal British Legion branch.
Mollie Muetzel, who lives in her own home in the town, told Legion chairman Denise Hudson that she left school in 1943 and volunteered to go to Bletchley Park because her sister Betty already worked there and they could share digs.
Mollie worked with figures but did not understand the top-secret significance of her calculations at the country estate in Milton Keynes, which was the principal centre of Allied code-breaking.
Because Betty worked on the decoding machines, she knew in advance that the war was finally over.
On VE Day, the sisters went home to Hoddesdon, returning later to Bletchley Park to clear their desks.
Denise, who organises the Legion's annual Poppy Appeal in Stortford, also visited Elmhurst care home in Windhill before the coronavirus lockdown to learn more about some of the residents' experiences.
Centenarian Norah Koster joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1943 then was seconded to the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME).
Her shorthand and secretarial skills were in demand from the military. Her postings included Woodbridge in Suffolk as the engineers worked to repair the 'ack ack' – anti-aircraft guns – deployed against the Germans’ doodlebugs, or V1 flying bombs.
Norah was demobbed after three-and-a-half years after a stint at a command centre in Chilwell, Nottingham.
She remembered with fondness her service and time off duty dancing to the music of Glenn Miller and his big band.
Jean Muir was a Waaf, serving her country in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). By VE Day in 1945, a quarter of a million women like her had served in the WAAF in more than 110 different trades, supporting operations around the world.
No fewer than 183,317 were volunteers with a further 33,932 women called up from December 1941. The majority were aged between 18 and 40.
Jean Ayler was living in Enfield at the outbreak of war. The family evacuated to Shifnal in Shropshire, where a relative had a farm. She could not remember clearly, but expected she spent VE Day working on the land rather than celebrating.