This is a review of the exploitation of my life, which is necessary to make sense of the circumstances in which I lived. It will also forestall any subsequent adverse discoveries by vested interests.
Before I begin I wish to apologise to my children for the life they were forced to lead while being raised as RAF officers children. However it was infinitely better than the alternative, which I experienced, and they escaped, because I did not want them to endure a duplication of my life.
My Mother died when I was 4 years old and my brother was 2 years old, our Father put us in an orphanage, where we stayed until we were all evacuated to the Lake District during the WW2 years. My education was sketchy, in fact deplorable, because I was teaching or minding classes of younger children, more than I was being taught, and there was much caning for trivial causes, such as talking.
During the many years we spent confined to the orphanage, in the Lake District, we only had one visit from our Father, when he took us for a rowing boat outing on Lake Windermere.
There were no examinations, qualifications would have been useless because we were doomed to be domestic servants, and at 14 years the girls were trained for 2 years either to be cooks or cleaners. When I was nearly 16 years I was placed into a vicarage in Sedburgh to be the family cook, while my brother went to a nearby farm to be a labourer, there was no question of choice or free will. The pay was minimal, and it took us a long time to save enough to travel, to jointly run away from what we considered to be our second prison.
However when we arrived at our Father`s house we were not welcome, as our eventual stepmother was living there with her daughter, I have no idea where my brother was sent and have not seen or communicated with him since he disappeared. I was just old enough to join the WAAF, which seemed to be the solution, to be trained for an enjoyable, worthwhile career, with qualifications, as I was ambitious. After all, I could not go much further down, therefore with effort I must succeed to improve my life.
I chose Air Traffic Control as the nearest occupation to flying, which was open to me, and was accepted, after aptitude tests, for the training course at the RAF College Cranwell. After graduating I was posted to RAF St Athan where I worked the early shift, alone without supervision in the Control Tower. Some time afterwards, an airman with whom I had danced at the Sleaford dance hall, near to the Cranwell College, contacted me, and asked me out for a date to see a film, which I accepted. Unfortunately it was a film about boxing, which I dislike, so I asked to be taken out, because it was most upsetting, and that was the only time I went out with Tom North.
There was a thriving amateur radio ( HAM ) society on station, which I joined, and enjoyed, then eventually North also, became a member, and seemed to always be present in the shack when I was there. Inevitably we exchanged histories occasionally, while waiting to connect to another member, but I was so unstreetwise, due to my sheltered, and deprived life as to not realise that while I was telling the truth he was feeding me a pack of lies about his family.
Years later North admitted that he had asked for a posting to RAF St Athan when he graduated from RAF Cranwell as an electronic engineer, to follow me, because as he put it, he was determined to have me. Unknown to me, from the radio section where he worked he would use a telescope to keep me under observation, while I was in the Control Tower. Especially when the pilots, of whom there were occasional large intakes of foreign pilots, used to spend time in conversation with me. He considered that he owned me even at that early stage.
My next posting was to RAF Kinloss, in Scotland, which was enjoyable, mostly due to my job, as it was never boring, but also the social life and exploring the nearby towns and countryside. I went on dates with civilians, and also officers, because I was intending to become an officer myself. I never went out with an airman again, after the disastrous date with North.
During the next few years I was posted to a course on DF training, qualifying in guiding a pilot to land by instruments when lack of visibility prevented a normal landing, Then a postings to near York, where North visited me and invited me to his home, fortunately I was on duty so had to refuse.
My posting to Hucknell, near Nottingham started well, except for another unexpected visit and invitation from North, which again I declined. I was enjoying everything about my life, when clothing coupons were abolished in early 1949, naturally we were all delighted, as we had never had the experience of shopping without shortage of supply or choice. Then in April a grand dance was being held, including a contest to find the best dressed female, which I won, in a New Look model. In the euphoria of congratulations I was somehow not surprised to discover Tom North again, with whom I danced, after previous other invitations. Afterwards my memory is hazy, and although I was strictly teetotal, I felt as though I had been drugged, with either alcohol or an alternative.
Somehow, I cannot recall how I travelled, I woke up in a tiny bedroom in North`s family house, which was an end of terrace, so different from his highly imaginative and upmarket original description. I was locked in, and felt ill and very upset, because I had no idea what was happening.
Subsequently, when Tom North came in the room, he told me that another woman had been proxy to a form of marriage, and I was married to him. This woman had worn my new coat and hat to impersonate me, and North had used my Post Office savings to buy himself a new wedding outfit. He also took great delight in telling me he had also bought my wedding ring with my savings. As I was under age my Fathers signature had been forged for sanction, for me to marry, it had all been arranged over many months.
My recollections were, unfortunately after my few years of freedom, that I was a prisoner again, and until North returned to his unit, still at RAF St Athan, I was gagged and repeatedly raped. No one knew more than North that I was a virgin, and determined, in the social conditions of the time, to stay that way, to risk becoming pregnant was sure to lead to dismissal and ostracism. We did make one trip back to my unit to fetch my few belongings, during which time I told my senior officer that I had been married without consent. The answer she gave, that I should accept what had happened, and that my pension was still assured, being married to an airman, staggered me, and only added to my distress. The ruling at the time was instant dismissal on marriage, as she reminded me, and that I was not due any back pay, because I had gone absent without leave. Therefore I was compelled to return to my prison, as I was not allowed out, because the dates were critical in two ways, as I learned much later.
As soon as I was pregnant, I returned to RAF St Athan with my husband, and we were in lodgings for a short time. When I told my landlady that I was pregnant, we were given notice to quit, at once. We found alternative accommodation, where soon afterwards I had miscarriage, with no help or knowledge.
I wrote to my Father asking for his help to get me out of this impossible situation, and to have the fraudulent marriage annulled, but after some time he replied that there was nothing he could do. I believe he had been bribed to participate in this sham, as the best way to unburden himself of any future involvement. When I told my husband I wanted to speak to a solicitor, he told me that as I was now over 21 years, the solicitor had told him that I might as well stay married. The attitude was so casual and indifferent that I despaired of changing the fact that I was now penniless and dependent, and without any help whatsoever. Many years later I was told that I had to be underage for the plan to work, to gain the doubtful respectability of my Fathers signature of permission. Once I had turned 21 years I could have had the proxy marriage annulled myself, the fact that I was pregnant, also made an enormous difference, and sealed my fate. The situation was essential, as North had been forced to join the RAF boy entrant scheme at age 15 years because he had threatened his stepmother with a knife, when she had been disciplining his younger brother. However while at St Athan he had been threatened with dismissal from the service, for bad behaviour and insubordination. But on informing his father, he was told he was still banned from living at home, and anyway they had sold his clothes, clothing was still on coupons then. So this elaborate system was devised, which took months to succeed, owing to my ignorant non-compliance.
A posting to RAF Mildenhall was of very short duration, where we stayed at a peculiar lodging, with shared facilities. I became pregnant again, and we were posted to RAF Marham, obtaining lodgings in the village of Fincham. My husband had two overseas attachments, one of 6 months, and another of 4 months, during the times I was pregnant. A move to lodgings in Downham Market turned out to be disastrous, and I again had a premature birth, the baby was born in the sixth month of pregnancy, and lived for less than half an hour, weighing just over a pound.
While my husband was away, I applied for and obtained a temporary job at RAF Marham selling books and magazines to American servicemen, which supplemented the pittance on which my husband left me to exist. I saved enough, with all the tips and some sewing, which paid well, to put a large deposit down on a 22 foot brand new caravan. There were very few married quarters, and no house building was started at the time. The mobile home, as it was styled was delivered to RAF Marham, and I was again made pregnant, which was successful, and my son was born in 1953, at the RAF Hospital Ely.
A posting to RAF Farnborough was next, the caravan having to be towed to a site at Blackwater, only to be told by North that we were to be posted abroad a few months later. The caravan had to be sold, and the proceeds were banked, but after a short time in lodgings, I was told the posting was cancelled. We moved into a married Quarter, but I subsequently discovered my husband had lied about the overseas posting, so that he could sell the caravan, to get the money from the sale. My elder daughter was born in 1955,at the Army hospital at Aldershot, and she was only a few months old when my husband was posted, on attachment to an Army camp at Anglesey.
I had tried to tell of my predicament at a police station before, and then tried again while I was at Farnborough, but the answer was exactly the same, the police could not interfere in Service matters.
We were fortunate to be registered with a civilian doctor when my son Jeremy became extremely ill, due to teething problems, causing tonsillitis. The doctor was so concerned that he decided not to put him into hospital, because he considered that he would pine away from me. I nearly lost my son, but I would not have been able to travel to hospital to care for him with a baby also to look after. The Doctor was very angry that my husband was not sharing the care, he was the best doctor I have ever had, and helped me by ordering the RAF to signal to recall my husband to RAF Farnborough. However, apart from fetching the medicine for our son, North did not help, but spent the rest of his brief stay asleep. It was such a traumatic time that I will never forget it, and blessed the baby for being so good, and eventually our son recovered.
I realised that my husband was not interested in the family, only in keeping me pregnant, while he was away. The pay was very poor, and was further reduced by my husband using more money on drink than I had to keep the family, which had to change. There was a marriage allowance book of money orders with which to buy essentials, but it was supposed to be supplemented from the service pay. North was living and eating well in the Mess, far better than we were, then using the rest of his pay in the bar. Although I was terrified of my husband, or rather, the power he had over my life, which he could misuse, with impunity, I believe the civilian Doctor had given me enough courage to speak up. To tell my husband that I could have been living well and enjoying my life, if he had not ruined it. Indeed, I told him I might even have been commissioned by now. This statement seemed to have had an effect, because he applied for a commission, and eventually passed the course. The penalty was that I had to surrender the marriage allowance book, because officers are paid one month in arrears, leaving me to manage on our savings. Naturally I wanted to draw the money from the sale of the caravan out of the bank to live on, it was supposed to be in the deposit account, but that was empty, North had squandered it all.
The next move was to a married quarter, near Pwllheli, north Wales, just a row of approximately 12 semi-detached houses in a row, a terribly isolated place, with no amenities. There was a bus service twice a week I believe, into Pwllheli, and an occasional grocery van would call. The wives and children seemed to be just dumped there for convenience, with a very rare brief visit from one of the spouses, North was still at Anglesy. Then just when I had unpacked and tried to settle in, the numerous faults began to appear, making the house uninhabitable, it was therefore necessary to pack all our belongings up again and move to another house a few doors away.
The next posting was to a course at RAF Henlow, where after a few weeks in lodgings we were allocated a hiring, a first floor flat in Bedford. We were so ill with the prevalent so called Asian flu, that our kind civilian doctor helped me to fill in a form stating that Bedford was an unsuitable place for us to live. Fortunately a 2-bedroom bungalow became available in Letchworth, which the doctor recommended, so I was pleased to pack up and move there. We spent the longest settled time at Henlow, probably because it was a course, and the social life started to become busy. My children were a joy to teach, and learned to read fluently, among other accomplishments, before they both started schools. Then inevitably I became pregnant again, just before a posting to RAF Gaydon, Warks. There were no married quarters available, but a hiring was allocated, a small wing of a mansion in Wellsbourne Mountford. However as we settled in, despite being fairly satisfied, as our landladies in the Manor house were so pleasant and eccentric, the problems became apparent, there were too many flies from the adjacent farm to which a baby in a pram, should be exposed.
We moved to the front half of a mansion in Upper Boddington; another Flight Lieutenants family lived in the other partitioned half. It had a huge amount of very large rooms with ancient furnishings. Fortunately I had excellent help, in the form of the original cook to the household, the only remaining member of staff out of an original 22 indoor staff. Unfortunately we were there only a few months when we received notice that the house was to be sold, and we had to move out. At this time there was a married quarter available at Gaydon as we had enough points, to move into the more convenient house for children was useful.
However, my poor children had a very traumatic year, moving house and school 4 times. The worst aspect was making friends, and then 3 months later having to start again after saying goodbye to their playmates, they were very upset. The different methods of teaching at the various schools were very disturbing for them. Being taught new maths, then reverting at a village school with only 2 classes, infant and junior, containing a wide range of ages in each. Only to be moved twice more into very dissimilar classes, with a different curriculum.
I gave birth to my second daughter, Elizabeth in 1961, after the four moves, returning to the nursing home at Wellsbourne, having had to book there. It was a pleasant change to see my name on the baby's clip file. In both the military hospitals where I had given birth previously, only the fathers rank and name was on the clip file of the son and daughter. The mother may have conceived, carried and sustained the baby for 9 months of her life, and then given birth after prolonged labour, but was so unimportant to preclude any mention of involvement in the creation of the new life.
A Summer Ball was held only a few days after leaving hospital, which had to be attended disregarding whether I was ready for it or not, having to breast feed the baby twice during the function in a Ball gown. Even with a batwoman to do the housework and look after the children, it was a very hectic year or so with many compulsory functions to attend, and duties to perform, until we were posted to RAF Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.
There was not a married quarter available, so we moved into a new house at Winterslow, about 5 miles from base. The owners assured us that they would be away for at least 3 years, but after only 6 months they wanted to return. I was determined that my elder children would not have to change schools again so rapidly, therefore we embarked on buying a nearby bungalow that
seemed to be the obvious solution. The pattern of functions and duties continued, even though we were approximately 5 miles from base, but being so isolated meant being out of touch with most of the services necessary with a growing family. My husband was hardly ever home, and when he was, spent it asleep, and it gradually became apparent that every time the children had incipient signs of the usual childhood illnesses he, very conveniently wangled to be away on a detachment. There was only one shop half a mile away, with only the barest overpriced essentials, and with a mortgage,etc adding to expenses, it was difficult to feed a growing family. Fortunately the large garden produced many of the staples, but it was demanding work, in addition to all the other pressures, if I had not grown our own fruit and vegetables, we would probably have had a deficient diet. North consumed more than his share of the joint income, he insisted on having his meals in the Mess, and the bar bills were far in excess of need, with no consideration of his family. He also insisted that he had to have the civilian clothing as well as his uniform, which left nothing for me, therefore I went without, and had to make most of the children's clothes.
Naturally, having bought a house for the first time, and having lived in it for only 2 years, we were posted abroad for the first time, and had to sell it, to go to RAF Rheindahlen, in Germany. Unfortunately, it was very sad having to reluctantly enter our son into boarding grammar school before we went. It was very much against my wishes, but according to North, supposed to be for his benefit. There was only one very welcome development to me at this time, that was kept a very close guarded secret from my husband, I had been prescribed the new contraception pill, and arranged to have a regular supply sent to me in Germany, when I had finished the stock that I was given. If only this miracle had been available 10 or 12 years earlier, my life would have been transformed.
We spent a short time in an approved small hotel in Holland while we were waiting for some of our luggage, and then we were allocated a small flat in a German house, where we stayed for 4 months. My elder daughter had to attend school on the base, a few miles away, there was no transport, therefore we had to buy 2 cars, one being a Mercedes, naturally, for my husband, the Volkswagen was supposed to be the family car. We also bought a small touring caravan, for weekends, as it was not convenient for North to be cooped up, living in a tiny flat. The equity on the house provided the wherewithal, and I wondered just how much of a coincidence the posting had been. The eventual move into married quarters at Rheindahlen was disastrous, as I have described in the stories section. The answer to my question, why was I getting punched, kicked and beaten for no reason, except that he had been drinking, was that he had promised my father he would not hit me, but that he was dead now, so that did not apply.
The duties and social life were very hectic; I was invited to more than ten parties a week. On Fridays and Saturdays I attended a cocktail party, then a buffet party and finally a dinner party, after single parties or functions the rest of the week, and that was just the evenings. The daytime was usually when the duties were performed, as well as functions, so it was fortunate that there was a full time batting service. The most humiliating part was that I had hardly any suitable clothes to wear, every other member of the family had priority, and I could not make garments with so much pressure on my time, even if I could have purchased materials, which were unavailable. As a Squadron Leaders wife I was very poorly dressed, due to North's selfish squandering, because he made sure of having many changes of suitable clothes, and massive Mess bills. We stayed in Germany for nearly 3 years, the longest time we had lived in a house up till then, but during the summer weekends we tried to go to different places in the caravan, which was very interesting.
The next posting was to the RAF Staff College at Bracknell, for a course lasting a year, but we travelled back to England on the 19th of December, to a very cold married quarter, after the steam heat of the quarters in Germany. As well as coping with the family, the endless functions, and social occasions, I had to spend hours sorting North's course work, as he most certainly could not have managed by himself. This was the first year that my husband brought home some very hard core pornography, from one of the trips abroad, and I was so shocked that I asked two of my female friends if their husbands had brought the same into their homes, containing their children. Of course I was badly beaten for divulging his secrets, although he was forced to resist much violence because the houses were close together.
Promotion to Wing Commander and a posting to RAF Abingdon, Oxon followed, to a much larger house, built in early 1930`s with servants accommodation and a row of bells to summon assistance. North was in charge of both the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering section, probably the largest on the base. Therefore I was the unpaid social worker to all the families of the section, both the junior officers and the other ranks. I was told that I was expected to be ready for duty at all times, but especially to be prepared by 8 am, to be available for any visitors. Telephones were strictly limited, very few were in quarters, therefore unexpected visitors had to be welcomed. Fortunately another Wing Commanders wife had been posted to Abingdon from Staff College, at the same time, so we shared the school run, and baby sitting. The wives were very co-operative, we had to be with our husbands away from home so much, I made some good friends, but similar to my children's friends, of very short duration.
Among my many and various duties, both by day and night, was being part of the sales team to charm Heads of State and foreign Royalty, at the demonstrations of the Harrier jump jet, at Abingdon. We were not asked if we were willing to perform this or any other task, it was taken for granted, we were not thanked, and as usual unpaid. In fact we were the British equivalent of the `Stepford Wives, ` despised automatons, but necessary to run the stations and sell aircraft. Another duty I was allocated had been the responsibility of the previous tenant of our house; she had managed the very busy thrift shop, which was hectic due to the continual postings. Unfortunately, she died early of a heart attack, leaving two small children. The perceived wisdom was that the amount of money that she was obliged to take home, and that was in her charge, was a source of anxiety, although she told only a few women. Therefore when I took charge I arranged for the military police to check the large sum, and take it under guard, then return it to me the next day, which worked very well.
Tax payers of this country would be amazed at the amount of waste and exploitation of their tax money by the military, the merest whim is indulged, for the enjoyment of military officers. While we were at Abingdon a fancy dress Caribbean dance night was planned and no effort or expense was spared. Two very large aircraft were sent to fetch real palm trees, and teams of exotically dressed, authentic limbo dancers, and their bands, it was a hit, because it was so novel and enjoyable. That was just one dance, of many, but the Summer and Winter Balls are the most costly to organise and stage. The luxury is manifest, especially at the themed or fancy dress Balls, when airmen are dressed as 18th century flunkeys, in hired silk outfits, to wait on and assist the guests, who in their turn were in magnificent hired costumes and full wigs. (This particular junket was criticised in the newspapers next day, mostly for using the airmen inappropriately, even if they were well paid for their services.) The invited guests are from various walks of life, senior officers from other stations, politicians, both state and local of course, even actors and presenters from the diverse media, etc. They have a wonderful free Ball, but the station officers and their wives have to pay for their enjoyment, and sumptuous food and drink. We are allocated a couple of guests and have to stay with them all evening and night, from 7.30 p.m. till 4 am, and later, when early breakfast is served. These privileged people for whom we pay are complete strangers, who take our attentiveness for hours for granted, we never see them again, and sometimes we are not even thanked for our enormous effort. It is no joke, especially as we have to be ready for the next round of duty at 8 a.m the same day, it seemed to be a treadmill life, I have regularly worked for 20 hours a day, weekends included, in fact it was standard practice.
The Caribbean dance night was very memorable for another reason, the duty officer, who was in charge of the station guard reported to our group of senior officers and wives that he could not find the guards, who were supposed to be manning vital areas such as the entrance guard room etc. An urgent search was ordered, which discovered all the guards plus many other ranks being an audience in a special building, of pornographic films which arrived on the aircraft with the limbo dancers. The import of large consignments of pornography, by aircrew was a usual practise, in addition to other commodities.
Very different to the usual moves was the next posting to MOD, and a house in Ickenham, which was conveniently near to Elizabeth's boarding school at Beaconsfield, and the Tube for ease of commuting. The house was a hiring in amongst civilians, but no chance of any social life, a complete contrast to preceding experience. It was an opportunity to buy a house, considering the start of a boom in prices. We had to travel quite a distance to secure a good bargain, and bought a new 4 bedroom fully detached house in Newport Pagnell, only just in time to take advantage of the unusual circumstances. The price of the house doubled in a year and trebled in two years, so it justified my efforts.
The train journey from the Wolverton station was an express, which together with the short car journey lasted the same time as the previous journey, from Ickenham. Moreover it was much more convenient, being sure of a seat all the way to London with far less overcrowding than the tube; it was less stressful, for North.
My life was a complete contrast to being on a station, there were many problems to iron out in a new house that I had never experienced before with all the furnishings and fittings. As the agent and solicitor for the housing estate were in London, North arranged the business end, while I took care of the domestic side. The garages were to be built later, as the houses were the priority while the autumn weather held, but as we still had the Mercedes we needed a larger garage than the plans had allowed. Three other householders nearby also wanted a larger garage so we joined forces for the materials and builders. However the foundations were necessary first, with concrete to be laid by the owners, all the rest of the husbands had plenty of friends and family to help, but as North never had a friend in his life, I had to navvy the concrete with him before it set. This was another humiliation, which the other wives on the estate never let me forget, their husbands would never attempt to request them to barrow or lay concrete
There was still some social life, although we had to travel further to fulfil the engagements, that sometimes meant setting off for the car journey on the M1 in full evening dress in blazing sunshine in the late afternoon. One such function was a Ball at the Dorchester at which I won a ticket for a return trip on the Hovercraft service to the continent for a car and up to six passengers. Being off season, Elizabeth would be at boarding school, so we arranged to combine the trip with a journey to Munich where my husband had to attend a conference. However, North had lulled me into a sense of false confidence and secretly made other arrangements, he brought Elizabeth out of school in term time on a bogus excuse, to have her travel with us. He had booked a room with three beds, in the hotel, and raped me continually at night, with the child present, apparently, but impossibly asleep. This behaviour was the start of teaching the 12-year-old child, who held the power and control, and was to escalate, for his private plan to succeed for the next few years.
I had just about completed the house and garden, when the next posting arrived with an ex-officio house at Thorney Island, on the south coast, which meant it was imperative for me to move however reluctant I may be. The house was let on a short lease arrangement to ensure we could return when we wanted, and to deter squatters. We had planned to take our furniture, much of it being antique, which I had been collecting for many years. Therefore we took a trip to a Northampton warehouse to replace many items more suitable for letting. The allocated house was the same as the 1932 built house at Abingdon, very large considering our 2 elder children had had to leave home, there is no provision for adult children, who are at a great disadvantage regarding the constant moving, At Thorney Island the six senior officers' houses were separate from the rest of the married quarters, being close to the sea, and the tiny ancient church, with a vicarage. These were ideal conditions for North to practise his many kinds of abuse, against both our daughter, and me when she was home. Many times I have had my life practically ended with various tricks and ploys, which I had to foil, with my children's safety uppermost in my mind. North also continued brainwashing or subliminally practising mind control on my daughter, by spending hours talking to her with the light off, in her bedroom, while she was supposed to be asleep. When after continually discovering him and ordering him to go back to his own bed, he became tired of my interference he locked himself into the child's bedroom all night. There was no one to help or advise me, I had tried all avenues of prospective assistance without success.
The relentless round of duty and functions continued, with the addition of many out of station functions to attend, my life was so busy that occasionally I would not even have time for a meal, all day. We would be requested to go to a function and given the misinformation that there would be a dinner or a buffet, only to be faced with a late drinks party. This was after I had driven to Elizabeth's boarding school to fetch her home, only to have to leave her to settle in alone in this huge lonely house, it was far too stringent to expect these obligations from us.
When our husbands went to the Guest nights at the Mess, the six or seven Wing Commanders wives started to have our own dressed up dinners at our different houses in turn. Our spouses tried various ploys to get us to stop, because they resented us enjoying ourselves so much, and having spent money on a better meal than we were accustomed to have alone. They are the meanest spouses bar none, which engenders fear in their families. This was summed up very neatly by one small child, who on being driven to the brightly lit Officers Mess, with his siblings in their dressing gowns by their Mother to drop her husband off was impressed. The silver decorations and lavishly laid table was visible, he asked plaintively, " Mummy why is Daddy so rich when we are so poor"? An attitude that is not helped by the wives and children being described on the officers posting notice as " Excess Baggage," animals get more consideration.
Then by chance the estate agent that was handling the letting of our house made the mistake of sending a letter to the home address, instead of as usual North's office or Mess address. The facts in the letter made it glaringly obvious that North had put the house in his sole name while he was arranging the mortgage, etc at the start of the sale, despite the previous house being in joint names. I insisted that it should be changed into my name also, and until it was confirmed, I would not perform any duties whatsoever, on station or off it. Afterwards, when I was satisfied I resumed normal activities, but several attempts on my life were made by my husband, some of them violent. Thorney Island was being decommissioned and closed down, it was an ideal time to stage an accident, several were tried, amid the bustle of final packing.
I survived to suffer the next move to Headquarters Strike Command, near High Wycombe, where there was no operational flying, making the station more impersonal than the usual activity.
The violence against me increased, I was knocked unconscious several times and badly bruised, and for the first time North hit my face and gave me a black eye. Fortunately I was registered with a civilian doctor, due to the large population of service personnel, with only a few doctors to go round; we were able to register outside the RAF. Consequently I consulted the Doctor, and it was so different to be examined as if I was a human being, instead of being dismissed as a pest as was usual, that I nearly wept. North told me that the time had arrived for me to divorce him, and if I didnít do exactly as he ordered I was threatened with many undeserved punishments. One of these cruelties involved one or more of the RAF dogs, he demonstrated by tying me up, just how he would accomplish the bestiality.
I had to visit the Citizens Advice Bureau in High Wycombe, to engage a solicitor to act for me, and was told that Reynolds, Parry-Jones and Crawford were the best, and that Mrs Beattie would deal with me, I discovered much later she was still a student. It was the first time I had any serious consultations with a solicitor, and found it very strange indeed. Eventually I was told to return to our house, which had been let to at least six different families, and was now clear for my occupation. North kept nearly all the antique furniture, which had been his intention since I started collecting, because he was going into the antique trade on retirement. Elizabeth told me that her father allowed her to choose her favourite items to keep, and he would not sell them. He also started to pander to her wishes, and gave her money for the first time in her life, and gave her wine to drink despite my objections. My personal items and few pieces of furniture were loaded into a small transit van, but many of the agreed items had been unloaded at night, while I was asleep. When we arrived at our house, North informed me that I would not see or communicate with Elizabeth again, I could not understand how he could get away with this act of treachery. He laughed as he told me that was the reason for putting the children into boarding school in the first place, and that I would top myself. He also told me he had transferred the contents of the current and deposit accounts into another bank in his sole name, despite them being joint accounts. This was against banking guidelines, and subsequently I received a letter of apology from Lloyds Bank, cynically far too late, with no promise of restoration, but knowing the old boys network it is probably standard practise. I protested that I only had £4 .37p to last me for a week when he wrote a cheque for £ 80.00. to last me for a calendar month, starting a week later. There was no food in the house, not even a twist of salt, the few staples that I had packed, had been unpacked overnight, and retained by him. The old leaking refrigerator had been sabotaged, as well as the ancient black and white television used in the playroom, to get rid of them, but they were useless, because they were now not repairable. The cooker was also nearly useless, having only two rings serviceable, with no oven or grill.
I wrote letters and cards to Elizabeth, but they were probably intercepted, as I never received a reply. To deprive a girl of her Mother, who has been so close to her was cruelty in the first degree, I have not seen her since 1977 despite all my efforts, which were in vain.
Then followed 5 years of living with one chair, and one bed, preventing me from inviting anyone to the house, as I had to dispose of the junk furniture that had had even more punishment from six tenant families. I regularly starved because North would conveniently forget to send my cheque, especially at weekends, therefore making me overdrawn at the bank, for which I had to pay a penalty of £12.00. I also had to pay the Legal Aid fee of £9. 10p per month, which left me less than £70.00.per calendar month, and at least four times a year when I had a delayed payment, I had to exist on £58.00.per calendar month. It took two years before the first Court appearance, in Oxford, where the wise judge had become so tired of North's excuses for not attending Court, that he imposed a 2 year suspended jail sentence on him. The money that I had to live on was increased, but considering that I had earned it, and that I could have earned much more on my own it was not nearly enough. North had promised and signed to pay the energy bills, but failed to do so, therefore I was in a great deal of debt and had to have gas and electric coin meters installed. If my solicitor had told me that North had not been paying the energy costs I could have claimed Benefit, therefore saving myself from starvation, because my income was much less than the then current Benefit level. I was now paying for the mortgage and the Life Assurance charge, which together with the energy debt rendered me no better off than I was previously.
Mrs Beattie used write a letter asking me to ring her, and then she would ring me back from the public telephone box, she would ask me about the children, especially Elizabeth, and whether I had seen her. This happened many times, I would not have been allowed to see her, either at her school in Beaconsfield, or at home at Naphill, even if I had the means to travel to either place. Another subject Mrs Beattie was insistent about was that I should get a job, preferably a menial cleaning job, as there would be no chance of an alternative. I was in my 50th year, had been prevented from earning my own living for nearly 30 years, so I kept on telling her that previously I had earned my living by using my brain and did not intend to do otherwise now. She told me that I had to go to my Doctor, who would pass me fit for a forced manual job. Other strange developments happened in the 5 years that the proceedings lasted, until I told Mrs Beattie that every development seemed to be to my husband's advantage, despite them being deemed the best solicitors in a High Wycombe.
When nearly 5 years had been spent without much progress, Mrs Beattie sent me an Affidavit to sign, it was supposed to be to my advantage, to put before the Court. There was nothing in it about how I had been tricked into marriage, or that it was compulsory retirement upon marriage, for me, or anything of the history of continual moving in the RAF. I refused to sign the document, as it was so unfair, and sent it back, whereupon Mrs Beattie said that I had better get another solicitor. I was more than surprised as I had no idea that I could have changed my solicitor, but the recognition that I would have to spend possibly another 5 years repetition of the previous grim existence was not to be endured. Therefore, in spite of my protestations that the Affidavit was injurious to my case, I was forced to sign it, with Mrs Beattie assuring me that I could tell the Court about the lifestyle of the RAF, myself.
When I arrived at the Court at Oxford, only Mr R C Elly was there, with the barrister and his junior, but not Mrs Beattie. The private fairly small room did not resemble a Court, and was filled with the legal representatives, and North, all male, I was the only female present. My suspicions were confirmed when I was not allowed to speak one word, whereas North told the Registrar a pack of lies, one of which was that I had never worked since I had been married, and that the arrangements for the children of the marriage had been settled. It was a massive set up, the pension and substantial gratuity payment intended for house purchase had not been mentioned, so I had been cheated out of my half share. I could not believe anything could be so unjust, because the result was so unlike anything resembling a civilian divorce that had been reported.
Despite all my efforts to secure an appeal, with so many protestations and paperwork that I had not had a fair hearing, no action was taken, because they had taken all my money away, they told me that I could not afford an appeal. I was no nearer to see or communicate with my daughter and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that, Mr Elly and Mrs Beattie were most certainly not working for me, and that it was a terrible fraud. I was landed with a far too large house, with a massive 100% mortgage, and any equity had to be paid to the charge the Law Society had put on it, to pay for the divorce. No doubt North was disappointed that I had not "topped myself" as he put it, so he got my lawyers to put the pressure on to force me into absolute despair. The only small advantage to me out of the settlement was that I was allowed to have the Life Assurance that I had to pay for the Endowment mortgage, and one page of the many lists of the furniture that I had not seen for 5 years. North had sold so many items, that I had bought with great care over many years.
After a great deal of decorating and improving, which was necessary to sell the house, because there was a depression in house sales, eventually it was sold, and I moved to my present address. Any move further south to be nearer my daughter was impossibly expensive, for even the tiniest dwelling, because I had to pay the charge for Legal Aid, as well as all the removal expenses.
Then followed years of correspondence with the Lord Chancellor`s office, with my letters taking up to six months before I received a reply, it was obviously a delaying tactics ploy. Eventually I was referred to the Lay Observer, a retired Major General, who agreed that I had just cause to sue Mr R C Elly for negligence, and arranged for a firm of solicitors in Northampton to act for me. The solicitor assigned to my case was very helpful, but when the Cambridge branch of the Law Society sat in judgement, they decided that there was not enough evidence to grant me Legal Aid, despite the convictions of the Lay Observer and my new solicitor. There was plenty of evidence, but all I lacked was the knowledge of the method by which this fraud was accomplished. I realised the gloves were off when I tried to get in touch with the Major General again, and was told that he was no longer in the post, he had been replaced with another person who was less than helpful.
I wrote to many people and organisations, charities and Members of both Houses of Parliament, for help without success, my own M.P. was very patronising and useless. Then I started a correspondence with Parents Aid, an organisation that took abduction cases to the European Court, and my name was entered on the list to be heard. The solicitor of the organisation was amazed at the personal freedoms that were lost by service wives when they were abroad. Not only did our children and we lose many benefit entitlements, but also small rights such as being able to cash a postal order was impossible, our spouses were granted that privilege, amongst others.
A friend told me that the Army Newspaper, Soldier, had a problem page edited by Anne Armstrong, so I wrote to her and she was very helpful. Eventually she arranged a meeting with the Service top brass from the MOD, and some officers wives, at the Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force ( SSAFA) HQ, at Queen Anne`s Gate, London. The meeting was held around a large table, and I will never forget the sight of the three Army officers wives in floods of tears as they described how their respective husbands had abducted their children, all at boarding school, preventing them seeing or contacting them. Some of the officers were standing by the distressed Mothers, apparently trying to comfort them, it was a sickening sight, considering that they had instigated the cause of the grief. I decided that the farce had to stop, and drew out a copy of the Sunday Times article entitled `Militant Tendencies` published Spring 1985, which a friend had given to me, and put it on the table. The result was very dramatic, all the officers looked at the article, and obviously recognised it, then looked at me and without another word they all rose and went out of the room. Unfortunately I regret that I had not said anything, so it was a wasted journey for me. I also regret that I cannot scan the copy to the screen, because when I wrote to the author she told me that she does not own the copyright therefore cannot give permission. I consider it a waste of time to request anything from the Times, as they have declined to publish any letters in their newspaper, probably due to the convenient `D`notice.
For nearly 30 years I have served on so called fetes, made produce, both edible and useful, nearly every week, to raise money, and collected donations for SSAFA, and other charities, from the public, which is one of our unpleasant chores. They are supposed to be for disadvantaged other rank personnel, as are other Service charities, but the massive sums raised are siphoned off to the advantage of retired officers, to supplement their pensions. Some of those officers are at SSAFA HQs, administering the funds, there are many other convenient life style enhancing quangos, funded by the service charities. Another diabolical use of these funds is to give an inadequate grant to officers wives, when they are divorced or abandoned, for a few items of furniture to put in their council flat, if they manage to obtain one. Little did these wives know that for 30 years they have been collecting for these charities, to fund their future second-hand furniture. There also have been reports in the press of millions of pounds disappearing, on more than one occasion, there is never a clue as to their destination, and we never hear of any prosecutions. This is similar to the Churches fugitive millions really, British Establishment secrets, possible without a Freedom of Information Act, a very simple lucrative system, their own private piggy bank.
A new organisation named `Reunite` was started, an all party group on child abduction and I was one of the founder members at the inauguration in the House of Commons. The attending M.Ps were Sir George Young, Clare Short, Ian McCartney and Kate Hooey, I believe. We had a newsletter with articles written by some of the mothers of the abducted children, there were not many fathers, as they usually were the abductors. Then I replied to a request for similar articles, which were published and copies were sent to me. It was the last communication that I was to receive, despite being a fully paid up member, and my repeat letters to the Box number address.
Shortly afterwards an item of news on BBC radio stated that `Reunite` were now enjoying a grant to employ one worker, I presumed it was as a secretary. A few years passed, then I heard another news item, that `Reunite` was going to lose their funding. By a very strange coincidence, I received an invitation to the A G M, and at first, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I considered it to be a computer error. However, when I attended the meeting I had great difficulty in obtaining information, especially the reason why the communication had stopped. Then `Reunite` had no more threats to lose their funding, and I realised that it had been a cynical exercise to extract public funds again, which seems to depend on military officer's wives being banned. This is not surprising when so many M.P.s are ex military officers and many more are lawyers, vested interest being their most potent drive.
After some successful actions against the Water Board, low flying aircraft at Mach 1. over our houses, by American pilots from RAF Upper Heyford and the Environment Department regarding trees etc, I became acquainted with a local journalist. He wrote a very useful article for me in the local newspaper that brought some response. I followed the most likely lead, which led me to a Squadron Leaders wife who had been abandoned by her husband, and she was living in Milton Keynes. After spending about 4 hours listening to some of the facts of her unpleasant life, I was on the point of leaving when she asked me to read a letter from her solicitor, on the subject of her half pension. When I had read it and recognised the name of the solicitor, I asked how she came to consult the same solicitor as me, as it was a strange coincidence. When she told me how she had been taken to the solicitor's office, circumventing the usual visit to the CAB, by the Commanding Officer of Strike Command, in his staff car with the pennant flying, denoting official RAF business, I knew that I had cracked the code. Apparently the manager in the High Wycombe branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau was an ex Wing Commander, he processed all the RAF officers wives through the same solicitor, where they were asset stripped with a vengeance. It was such a simple idea, as all the best frauds are, that I could nearly admire the method, if I had not suffered from it myself, that is. As soon as I was able I wrote to the female controller of the countrywide C.A.B.s giving her the facts that the system was being abused for the benefit of the RAF officers. She took very prompt action, I am glad to say, which stopped that nice little earner for many people, but made me very unpopular for many years.
There was a community programme on BBC 2 TV, where license payers could make their own programmes on public interest themes, which I decided would suit me for my campaign. When the producer replied that it would make a good programme, she came to my house with her secretary and was very enthusiastic, and took all the details of the information I gave her. As time passed, I was requested to telephone from a public box, because I had not been able to afford a phone for many years, there was a snag, so the programme could not go ahead. Apparently another series entitled `Army Wives` had been in the making for a considerable time, and was due to be screened fairly soon. This development clashed with our programme; therefore ours had to be dropped. However when I received the letter of confirmation I realised that explanation was not true, because when the series was screened it was entitled `Army Lives.` As usual the concentration was on the male soldiers, with very little about Army wives, and officers wives being conspicuous by their near absence. I telephoned the producer who wished to make my programme and challenged the veracity of the letter, and was told that when her boss, male of course, had phoned the RAF for confirmation, he had been told by the P R department not to broadcast the programme.
I wrote to the solicitor Of ` Parents Aid` and learned that I was near the top of the list to have my case heard in the European Court, but when I informed the solicitor of my discovery of my solicitor's involvement, I never received any more replies. Obviously power politics were starting to block any progress I considered I could make, as other people stopped writing to me also, it seemed to be too embarrassing to be connected with this cause. In short a complete blocking mechanism by the Establishment.
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My attempt to resolve the issues