One Woman’s War by Eileen Younghusband
24th Jan 2012
Eileen Younghusband takes a modest road when revealing her role as a Filterer, a woman sworn to secrecy, transcribing Radar transmissions during World War II.
The chronological narrative revels the simple pattern of life and innocence in pre-war Europe, and the moments in which it is put aside. The nation begins to replace their potted flowers with vegetables, and learn to live with bombs and fear.
Meanwhile the government invested in innovation, desperate to get the edge on Germany and their perceived advancements. While working towards inventing a ‘Death Ray’, they developed Radar, which became of of their strongest tools for protecting their force, and their country.
For a contemporary reader it is strange to imagine Radar as a new concept, with the people being taught to use this technology having it likened to ripples in water.
Younghusband is honest and methodical as she revels the personal tragedy that takes her into the armed forces, working against sexual stereotyping, and travelling into war-torn Europe to hunt for weaponry using Radar training.
Her bravado and duty creates an ethical drive that carries her through the war, strikingly different to the often masculine association of women in the forces today.
It is rare to find a person who has personally experienced so many facets of the war; from a young woman breaking into the workforce with the outbreak of war, to a incentivised woman joining the armed forces to work on a highly demanding classified project.
Younghusband experienced the highs as she celebrated VE day as it unfolded in Holland and reflected on the depths as she spent a short time as an educator and tour operator in a recently closed concentration camp.
All these experiences are interwoven with her personal stories, remembering those she crossed paths with in fleeting moments, and gently affording them their role in the telling of her part of history.
Recommended for: History buffs and mathematics geeks.
Other recommended reading: For more the behind the scenes views on British codebreakers, go to The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There by Sinclair McKay, or for more on the home front try Wartime: Britain 1939-1945 by Dr Juliet Gardiner.