World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                       Marjorie Kimber 

A Slight Loss of Dignity

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Marjorie Kimber
Location of story: Hertfordshire, England
Unit name: 93rd (m) S/L Regiment R.A
Background to story: Army


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Katherine Wood of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Marjorie Kimber.

A Slight Loss of Dignity

While serving on a searchlight site in a field in Hertfordshire, part of our outer ring defences of London, the following incident occurred. As part of my duty as a searchlight operator, No.5 in the searchlight crew, I had to ensure that at all times the lamp and other parts responsible for creating the beam of light necessary for both illuminating enemy aircraft and creating a ‘homing beacon’ (a path of light to guide one of our own planes, perhaps its equipment no longer useable) back to an airfield ready to accept it ‘ready for action’.

One summer morning, busily engaged in cleaning the parabolic reflector, I forgot that the Sun’s rays would not remain static (unlike the equipment) until one of the other girls working outside smelled smoke and shouted, “Fire!” Feeling my nether regions unduly warm, I turned around to find the seat of my dungarees smoking fiercely. Luckily I jumped through the lower inspection door on to the grass outside, and rolling around managed to put the fire out, with a little damage to my denims but a lot more to my personal dignity.

At the time, my brother was serving with the RAF in India, and stupidly I relayed the incident to him in an airmail letter. Back came the reply, a cartoon which I still have in which my brother visualised it all, but happening to a small piece of equipment nowhere near the size of the huge monster in which it had all happened. My dignity suffered twice over!!