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Mum's Army

Love and Adventure From the NAAFI to Civvy Street

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Winifred Phillips was born in Ilford, Essex, in 1926, one of four children. Sent to a convent boarding school, which she loathed, she trained as a nursery nurse and met George Wheeler, a 19-year-old RAF trainee wireless operator. The pair fell in love and spent a happy year together, only to say goodbye in 1943 before he was sent on bombing missions to Germany. They kept in touch with regular letters but he went missing in 1944 and nobody knew what happened to him.

Determined to see something of the world, Winifred joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1948 and enlisted in the Women's Royal Army Corps a year later. For the next two decades she travelled the globe and reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. Her story offers a unique insight into the lives of female service personnel in the 1950s and '60s. She writes wittily and candidly about her time in the army, how life was lived in the mess and the NAAFI, and the scrapes she got into. But she never forgot George. And she never married. At the age of 70, she went on a journey to find out what happened to the only man who would ever win her heart and, 50 years after he disappeared, she was finally able to pay her respects. In 2009, after ten years of campaigning, Win became the first ever female Chelsea Pensioner to be accepted at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where she lives today.

Winifred Phillips was born in Ilford Essex in 1926, one of four children. She devoted her working life to the British Army, travelling the world and gaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. In 2009, after ten years of campaigning, she became the first ever female Chelsea Pensioner to be accepted at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where she lives today.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (February 14, 2013)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471111266