Winifred Barber


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WINIFRED BARBER (nee Needham)
Former WAAF 489447
25.11.1923 – 18.1.2013

If my Mother had not enlisted into the WAAF she would not have met my Father, settled in Hampshire and I would not be writing this eulogy.

Winifred Needham was born in Barlow, a small village in Derbyshire and was one of four children. Her older brother joined the RAF at the start of WWII and she followed him into the service in September 1943 joining the WAAF. This would have been an amazing adventure for her as, until then, she had only experienced the hardship of growing up in a small mining village. She was the oldest daughter of a miner who served in France during WWI. Her Mother suffered poor health and she eventually succumbed to tuberculosis. Winifred’s life at home was not easy and being the eldest girl she was often set chores that today would seem hard but in those austere days they were the norm.

After enlisting she was posted to Ringway (now Manchester Airport) as a Maintenance Assistant and it was here that she met her life long friends Elsie and Dulcie. I’m sure that the three young WAAFs shared many an escapade but I have never been privy to the stories!!

Mum’s final posting was as a Stores Assistant in Beaulieu, Hampshire. By that time my Father had returned from his RAF service overseas at Heany in Rhodesia where he was an Engine Fitter. He was also posted to Beaulieu and often tells the story that he would invent many excuses to visit the stores for spares so that he could talk to the lovely WAAF, Winifred. Their friendship blossomed and in December 1945 they married. They rented married accommodation in Brockenhurst for a short time and when they were both demobbed they set up home in Portsmouth, my Father’s home town.

My Mother never talked much of her service during the War but to her, like many others, it was a life changing experience. Her service in the WAAF left its mark. She always had a fondness for a man in an RAF uniform, she would salute whenever she heard the RAF band play a march and tell all of those prepared to listen of how proud she was to have been a member of the WAAF. It changed her life forever, she met and married the man of her dreams and moved from a small mining village in Derbyshire to a large city in Hampshire. She settled into the life of a wife and the mother of two children and, needless to say, there were many further challenges for her along the way. However the one thing that we can say about her is that she was a devoted and loving Wife, a brilliant Mum and in later years a much loved Grandma and Great-Grandma.

Added by: Patricia Johnston on 7th March 2013.

 

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Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
67 Portland Place, London W1B 1AR
0800 169 2942
Registered Charity No. 1081009