The WAAF Memorial Window

On Sunday 6 May, 2018 St. Giles Church, Stanton St Quintin was bedecked in floral displays of red, white and blue for a service to dedicate a stained glass window in honour of more than 100 other ranks of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force who were billeted in the village during the Second World War. Amongst the special guests were WAAF veterans Dorothy Brown, who worked as a flight mechanic at Hullavington airfield, and radio operator Ena Day. They were joined by former VAD nurse Helen Mc Alpine, who grew up in Stanton St Quintin. Marjorie Morgan led the service, in the presence of the Mayor of Chippenham Cllr Mary Norton, Air Commodore Barbara Cooper and a large contingent from the WRAF, RAF and 1304 Squadron Chippenham Air Cadets. Standard bearers were provided by the RAF Association, Royal British Legion and Air Cadets.

Churchwarden Hilary Greene read John Gillespie Magee’s poem ‘High Flight’ and Katherine Bennett CBE, Senior Vice President of Airbus delivered a bible reading.

After the service the congregation repaired across the road to Stanton St Quintin Primary School. Here memories were recounted and stories shared over a wonderful afternoon tea prepared and served by Chris Vines and her team.

Thanks are due to Marjorie Morgan, Rev. Christopher Bryan and the Parochial Church Council for their support of this project and the many individuals who have contributed their time and donations to bring it to fruition.

The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force was founded in 1939 to free RAF personnel for front line duties in World War Two and amongst the essential roles that members fulfilled were as radio operators, drivers, flight mechanics, cooks and clerks. By 1942 more than 100 WAAFs from RAF Hullavington were billeted in Stanton Court, adjacent to St Giles and many more were billeted in the village.

The window is contemporary in design and is the third in St. Giles Church to be designed by local artist Peter Berry  and shows the Hullavington flight control tower and hangar and depicts WAAF mechanics working on an Airspeed Oxford aircraft. Several other WW2 aircraft are illustrated including Avro Ansons, Spitfires, Miles Masters and Hawker Hurricanes. The design also incorporates an aerial scene with symbols of radio frequency lines and an RAF roundel. WAAF badges of rank ranging from leading aircraft woman to flight sergeant, and many other WAAF symbols are included in the border.  The window is in pastel shades both to allow light into the church and to afford a changing colour palette to the aerial scene throughout the day.

… Dr. Fiona Baskett