Taff in the WAAF
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This issue’s cover illustration is from John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury’s There’s Going to be a Baby. This book, as well as an exhibition of John Burningham’s work, is discussed by Julia Eccleshare. Thanks to Walker Books for their help with this November cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 185 November 2010
This team’s previous book about the Second World War career of Mick’s dad, Tail-End Charlie, was a deserved success. This one brings his mum’s secret war work of monitoring German military wireless messages into retrospective light. Linking mundane contemporary documents, like ration books and snapshots, with a lively cartoon representation of his mum’s life from the outbreak of war to demob, it uses her experience as representative of all the women who served as auxiliaries, whether in the WAAF, the ATS or the AFS, and as an insight into the work at Bletchley Park, where the messages she monitored were decoded. There is a careful balance between personal experience and wider historical information. The text not only reproduces the tone of Mick’s mother’s reminiscence, but conveys some of the characteristic attitudes of the war years. The illustrations incorporate a wealth of visual information – about fashions, household furnishings, hairstyles, uniforms, military equipment, dance steps and much else – that also captures the sense and spirit of the times. There is an excellent glossary, which is more in the way of footnotes, given the fullness of the information there. From the endpapers to the presentation of the text as if typed on a 1930s typewriter, this is impeccably designed, written and illustrated: an absorbing, exciting and thoughtful account of one woman’s war in all its aspects. Will also be of interest to older readers.