Vera Organ (nee Layzell)

We have been informed by family of WAAF veteran Vera Organ that Vera has passed away. Vera is pictured above when she visited the Museum in 2015 for an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Fighter Control Association.

Vera Organ joined the WAAF in 1941 when she was just 21 years old. Vera was posted to RAF Bentley Priory early on in her WAAF career and spent 8 months working as a Plotter in the Filter Room.

Vera later moved to Rudloe Manor where she worked as a Teller. This was particularly busy work as they were plotting shipping as well as aircraft and she was working there during events in the war, including the D-Day landings.

When interviewed about her time at RAF Bentley Priory, Vera recalls that they would only be allowed in to the mansion house when they were “on a charge”, in other words reprimanded. This means that Vera did not enter the house until 2013, when she was invited here as a Veteran.

Vera is pictured below, standing to the right of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, at the opening of Bentley Priory Museum in September 2013, also attended by HRH Prince Charles and WAAF veterans.

Volunteer Open Day – Thursday 7th March

Love history? Passionate about engaging people of all ages?

Or perhaps you’re green-fingered or simply mad about scrumptious cakes!

Whatever you enjoy, we have a volunteering opportunity for you!

Volunteering is a great way to get involved with your local community, make new friends, learn new skills and develop your passion!

Come along to the Museum on Thursday 7th March 2019 to meet our volunteers and find out what volunteering at Bentley Priory Museum is all about!

We are running a morning (11am-1pm) and an afternoon (1pm-3pm) drop in session, click here to book your place now!

Volunteer opportunities available include:

  • Family Activities Volunteer
  • Garden Volunteer
  • Hospitality Volunteer in our popular vintage cafe
  • Reception Volunteer
  • Room Steward
  • Schools Volunteer
  • Tour Guide

Joan Fanshawe (nee Moxon)

We have been informed by The Association of RAF Fighter Control Officers that veteran Joan Fanshawe passed away at the end of December whilst visiting family in New Zealand. Joan is pictured above with Group Captain Tim Willbond and Chief of the Air Staff, ACM Sir Stephen Hillier at event at Bentley Priory Museum in April 2017.

 

Joan Fanshawe was a Clerk Special Duties and was one of the first WAAF personnel to be employed on duties in the Dowding System.  Her first tour was at HQ  11 Group where she was employed as an Operations Room plotter from July 1940 to January 1942; this period covered both the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.  Joan was on duty on the morning of the 15th September 1940 and witnessed Churchill’s visit on that momentous day.

In January 1942 she was commissioned as an Assistant Section Officer. On D-day she was serving at the Sector Operations Centre at Tangmere from where squadrons were controlled until they crossed the French coast.

Joan is pictured below, on the right-hand side, with TRH Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall and fellow WAAF veterans at the opening of Bentley Priory Museum in September 2013.

Time Flies: A Celebration of 100 Years of the RAF

Tickets are now on sale for ‘Time Flies: A Celebration of 100 Years of the RAF ‘ – a RAF Royal Gala at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane on Sunday 7 October 2018.

‘Time Flies’ will tell the story of the formation of the RAF in 1918 to present day, through song, dance, poetry and film.

Among the names announced for this one-off spectacular show are the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the D-Day Darlings, Pixie Lott and Sir Ben Kingsley.

Proceeds from the Royal Gala will support 5 charities: The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, RAF 100 Appeal, the RAF Music Charitable Trust, The Polish Airmen’s Association and Bentley Priory Museum.

Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal’s website.

Elisabeth Joyce Stewart (nee Brewster)

The family of former WAAF Elisabeth Stewart (nee Brewster) have informed us that Elisabeth sadly passed away at the end of 2017.

Elisabeth joined the WAAF in 1940 when she was just 18 years old and was posted to RAF Bentley Priory early on in her career. Whilst based at RAF Bentley Priory, Elisabeth worked as an Operations Room Plotter. She remembered that they were often joined by senior officers watching them from the balcony above and on occasion, Winston Churchill would also be observing.

In December 1944, Elisabeth was the first to hear the message that Glenn Miller’s plane had gone missing. Just four months earlier Glenn Miller and his band had played at RAF Bentley Priory.

Later, Elisabeth was commisioned as a Codes and Cipher Officer and was posted to the Orkneys. There she met her future husband who was serving in the army. Their daughter went on to join the WRAF.

When sharing memories of her time in the WAAF with us, Elisabeth noted that there was “a great sense of community and belonging”.

 

Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

Enjoy a sumptuous, handmade afternoon tea in the Museum’s vintage cafe.

£19.50 per person (£24.50 including Museum admission).
£24.50 per person including a glass of Prosecco (£29.50 including Museum admission).

Advance booking required by Friday 2nd March.

Click here to book online

Alternatively, call 020 8950 5526 or email enquiries@bentleypriorymuseum.org.uk to book.