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Life In the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War 2

On September 1st 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Two days later on September 3rd, Britain declared war on Germany. So started World War 2.

I was seventeen years old at the time, living in a small town in mid Wales. I did not think that the war would affect my family or friends in any way. Little did I know!!

Women were required to take the role of jobs that men would normally do. My elder sister was the first person in my family to volunteer and she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, better known as the ATS in 1940. She was posted to the Army pay Corps.

When Germany was defeated in 1945, she went over to France and then to Germany as a volunteer. My brother joined the Army Signal Corps in 1941 and was posted to several units in England. He then went to France to be a driver for the Officers.

AB 64 Soldiers Service and Pay Book

Mary Laughton holding her AB 64 Soldiers Service and Pay Book

In 1942, I joined the ATS and after my six weeks' training, I was posted to Portsmouth

I worked as a clerk at Hillsea Barracks. I certainly had my eyes opened and mixed with women from all walks of life and from many different parts of the UK. There was a great deal of bombing, which at times was terrifying, but we all pulled together. Many had fascinating stories to tell about their lives. I was so naive at the time!! One woman I made friends with is still in contact with me to this day.

In 1943, I was posted to Shrewsbury Barracks and became reunited with my sister who had also been posted there. I was demobbed in Hereford on 4th August 1945

Although times were hard, I can honestly say that the war years have proved to be some of the best days of my life.

Veteran service medal

Dictated to me by our mother, Mary Laughton nee Preece. 10.4.1922 - 01.09.2014

R. I. P Mum, you will be forever missed by Margaret and me.

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