Wartime memories of roaring engines
Beatrice Boyce's memories of World War II play to the sound of roaring engines.
From 16, she worked on Lancaster bombers for aircraft manufacturer A V Roe, near Manchester.
"Thousands" of them would pass over England, bound for Berlin, the Rothesay Bay resident says.
"You could feel the heaviness of the bombs in the roaring."
Wearing dungarees and a hairnet, she laboured alongside other young women, securing bomber doors and panels from 1942 to 1944.
"I was very slight then. I could kind of manoeuvre around."
Lancasters were manned by six men, with many sent on "suicide missions".
"We used to say ‘gee, I hope our rivets are holding together'. There's someone's life relying on us to get it right.
"It's amazing how many came back. They were such great men."
But "all of our birthdays had come at once" when five male air force recruits turned up at the factory.
"It was the highlight of our lives when these boys turned up."
Mrs Boyce dated three, eventually marrying her final beau Ray.
It was good money, working 12-hour shifts, but finding the time to spend it was difficult.
She says she faked a bad back and got a doctor's note so she could go to Cornwall to see Mr Boyce and his family.
They were separated for a short time when Mr Boyce was recalled.
But one day he showed up "and he was keen", she says.
Mrs Boyce says she lost friends during the war, including a young man who was a tail-end gunner in a Lancaster.
But everyone knew what they signed up for, she says.
Mrs Boyce moved to the East Coast Bays in 1953 with her late husband, living in Campbells and Murrays bays before settling in Rothesay.
She says she still has her friendships from the war.
Not knowing if they would see each other again is what made the connection special, Mrs Boyce says.
Her brother is the only one who knows her story so her family will be surprised when they see her in the North Shore Times, she says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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