2017 Remembrance Day | Remembering Brenda Edwards

Blog posts from late Busselton resident Brenda Edwards tell a remarkable story of a young lady who was wound up in the activities of D-Day during World War II.

On June 6, 1944, D-Day saw the largest group of allied forces storm Normandy shores from the sea which marked the start of freeing Europe from Nazi occupation.

When Ms Edwards was working in Cambridge she was told to make her way to Blakehill Farm, a RAF airfield in England.

She was the first of five women from the Women's Auxiliary Air Force to arrive at the camp where Ms Edwards found herself knee deep in mud.

“The huts weren’t finished and they were very damp,” she wrote.

Ms Edwards soon discovered the camp was a training base for the First Airborne Division who would later do the first airborne landing in Holland.

During her time at Blakehill Farm, Ms Edwards worked at the station sick quarters driving a Morris ambulance in a 24-hours on, 24-hours off roster.

“Later on many more girls arrived at the station sick quarters to drive ambulances, all in preparation for D-Day.”

When D-Day arrived they were told not to talk to anyone outside of the village for two days, she wrote, the atmosphere was eclectic.

“We all knew something big was going to happen but we didn’t know what.”

When D-Day started the women waited up all night in a crew hut on the aerodrome – the sky was black with Dakota gliders – carrying equipment and 30 pilot troops on their way to Normandy.

The women waited until dawn when the first Dakota arrived back at the base.

“The doors opened and the first wounded came out on a stretcher, with the WAAF nursing orderly holding a bunch of flowers and a German tin hat.”

Ms Edwards said the casualties were offloaded into the ambulances still covered in blood and mud.

Their efforts were being hampered by war correspondents who were all scrambling to get stories for their evening newspapers.

“We spent weeks carrying the injured between planes and marquees, some of the men were in a terrible condition which was very upsetting.

“We were able to give them cigarettes and help them write postcards home to tell their loved one they were okay.

“The smell of gas gangrene was overpowering and would steep into our battle dresses, staying for hours.

“Occasionally the wounded would be shell shocked and we would have to take their cigarettes and leap on them to stop them withering about.”

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