Wartime memories

03:58, Apr 24 2013
Elsie Vallily
WW II WWAF veteran Elsie Vallily.

Elsie Vallily might not remember everything about her World War II service, but she still recalls her identification number: ''20176333, Sir!''

She had to say that several times daily serving in England from 1941-45 as a driver in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

Another reminder of wartime are her feet.

Uniforms and shoes given to volunteers were ill-fitting and Vallily had to march around London to promote the war effort after enlisting.

After training at Blackpool, Vallily - then 19 -  drove cars, carriers, tip trucks, and ambulances.

''I've had bad feet ever since,'' she says.


She transported Air Force officers to balloon sites and aerodromes in and around London.

Driving at night was hardest.

''We only had a slit of light across each side because of the blackout.''

Vallily didn't hesitate to volunteer for the WAAF.

''I don't think we had much choice in the end. It was volunteering or working in a factory ... We did everything that the men did, really - except fight.''

Her strongest memory of the war? Is the  camaraderie and, ''the feeling that we were all working together for the same cause.''

It was not all hard: Vallily also remembers having ''quite a good time'' in the WAAF, biking to pubs and going to dances.

After the war, she met her husband at a country dance and they moved to New Zealand in 1951. Vallily has shared her experience with her grandchildren and wishes she could remember her story better.

''I started writing a story but I haven't got very far,'' she says.

D Scene