Woman who served in World War II has ashes scattered at RAF Duxford

PUBLISHED: 16:32 27 December 2013 | UPDATED: 13:52 30 December 2013

Sylvia served on the home front during the Second World War

Sylvia served on the home front during the Second World War


A woman who served on the home front during World War II has had her ashes scattered at RAF Duxford.

Sylvia Salmon, who died in July 2013 aged 91, served at RAF Duxford as one of its first members of the Womens’ Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and her family decided to fulfil her last wishes by scattering her ashes on Duxford Airfield, where she spent some of the happiest years of her life.

Her career in the RAF, where she rose to the rank of Sergeant, included various postings but her most memorable was her time spent working in the Officers’ Mess between 1939 and 1942.

Sylvia’s memories have been recorded as part of the Historic Duxford exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, in which she said: “What we did find very difficult, during the Battle of Britain, was we had lots of VIPs at Duxford and they were all entertained to lunch in the Officers’ Mess and sometimes, in the middle of lunch, when it would be quiet and we were looking after these very famous people, the squadrons would come back from the battle skies of southern England and they were battle weary, tired, exhausted. And more often than not, there were empty seats in the mess and we would remember who had occupied them at the previous meal. It was sometimes very sad but life had to go on.”

While RAF Duxford was only bombed four times, on three separate days in 1941, life at the fighter station was not without its dangers, as Sylvia remembered: “We just got into the married quarters and the first thing we used to do was to open the windows. Well, as we did so, suddenly we heard rat-tat-tat and we had to hurriedly retreat inwards because this plane was flying along machine-gunning the married quarters. There was no warning. The guns remained silent and it just flew level with the rooftops. It flew in from London and flew out towards Royston. I imagine there’s some bullet holes in those houses to this day.”

During the winter season, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford will be open daily from 10am until 4pm, and last admission is at 3pm.


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