Honour for Bletchley Park veteran Eileen

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AFTER more than 65 years, more secrets about Bletchley Park are set to come to light in a book written by one of its heroes.

Eileen Younghusband, now 90, has penned the book ‘One Woman’s War’ about her wartime experiences working in the Filter Room –a top secret room collating information from Britain’s primitive radar network, calculating where German bomber fleets were heading in the build up to the Battle of Britain.

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And after 30 years of being sworn to secrecy, Eileen is finally able to tell her story.

Eileen, who now lives in the Vale of Glamorgan, was dismayed that despite the acres of newsprint and hours of television footage devoted to the Battle of Britain, very little of the Filter Room was mentioned.

She said: “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.”

On the map table in the Filter Room, Eileen saw the invasion fleets heading for the Normandy beaches on D-Day, she received the coded warning of the first V2 rocket as it approached London, and later was one of a handful of WAAF sent to hunt the V2 launchers in Belgium.

Eileen appeared at Bletchley Park on Saturday to talk about her experiences and to promote her book, and was given the honour of ‘Freedom of the Park’ in recognition of her work.

She has also contributed to a forthcoming documentary series “D Day to Berlin” to be aired on Channel 4 in October and has been in talks with a production company about turning aspects of her life into a drama series.

‘One Woman’s War’ has contributions from Dame Vera Lynn and Emma Soames. Emma Soames, who is Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, believes that Eileen’s story must be heard. She says: “It is excellent to be reminded what a great debt we owe to this group of brave, dedicated young women who, in a highly charged and stressful situation, where time was of the essence, did so much to save our country from destruction.”

As a teenager visiting pre-war France and Germany, Eileen had the first intimation of the horrors to come. She continues: “I caught glimpses of the sinister side of the Nazi regime. Every shop in the busy centre of Bonn had a framed photo of Hitler in the window.

“Following the Germans’ “Heil Hitler” salute, on one occasion two of us went into a greengrocers, gave a smart British Army salute and said: ‘God save the King and a kilo of plums please,’ in our accented German. The shopkeeper did not think it was funny at all; in fact he looked frightened and glanced around him to see if anyone had noticed.”

Journalist Hugh Turnbull, who made a BBC radio programme about Eileen, persuaded her to write this memoir. He says: “Eileen Younghusband is the most remarkable woman I’ve met in more than forty years in journalism. Her memory is so sharp and her writing so vivid. Anyone who wants to know what World War Two was really like for a woman in uniform could not do better than read One Woman’s War.”

One Woman’s War is published by Candy Jar Books, price £15.99 and available from www.onewomanswar.co.uk.