Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Debs at War
More book-buying shenanigans today... was in Blackwells and my eye was caught by the title Debs at War, because I thought it might refer to my heroine, Deborah Mitford. It doesn't, but closer inspection didn't make the book look any less interesting - the full title is Debs at War: How Wartime Changed Their Lives 1939-1945, and it's about those who were debutantes shortly before war broke out. Anne de Courcy, the author of this book (and maybe known by some as a biography of Diana Mitford/Mosley), interviewed 47 women who were pre-war debs whose lives were dramatically changed by the war. They entered the Services, as Wrens, WAAFs, FANYs or ATS; they became nurses or VADs; some even started factory work and tried to hide their background.
As before, I'll try to give an overview of a book by its chapter headings. The difference, of course, being that I haven't read this one yet...
- Childhoods 'We were taken down to say good morning to our mother'
- A Question of Upbringing
'You won't need exams'
- Coming Out
'The whole point was to find a husband'
- The Approach of War
'I stood in the room that had been my nursery, listening to Chamberlain declaring war'
- Joining Up
'I wasn't going to get on with anything else until we'd finished with Hitler'
'Posh girls driving staff cars'
'We were the rough, tough ones'
- Fun in Wartime 'Boyfriends were more important than bombs'
'We were working too hard to flirt...'
'Sometimes the ambulance bells never stopped'
- Love and Marriage
'...and then we got engaged. Crazy, really, wasn't it?'
'How much German do you speak?'
- On the Land
'We don't want any bloody land girls here'
- The Class Barrier
'We'd never met girls like these before'
'We began to learn to do without sleep'
- The Air
'Why are you bringing up only half an aeroplane?'
'The war made us feel capable of doing something'