Leeds “Then and Now”

The last couple of posts have been about our trip to London so I thought I’d do one about our recent time up in Leeds. This post focusses on the “Wings for Victory” parade. In 1943  the wings for victory campaign was launched and was designed to raise funds for new aircraft for the RAF. Wings for Victory week was 26th June – 3rd July 1943 in Leeds, on the 29th of June there was a parade which the AAGB were part of. Below is a great picture of the team from Leeds marching past the Jubilee Hotel. Despite Leeds having been highly redeveloped the hotel building is still there to this day!

FANY photo with AAGB links

We recently got this great photo which clearly shows the links between the AAGB and the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry or as they were known WW2 the Women’s Transport Service. The paper with the photo titled “Meeting the Enemy” which was passed by the British Censor on 23/11/1940 reads “London, England – Girl members of the American Ambulance Great Britain show no fear in meeting a bomb which they examined during a test calculated to bring them face to face with realism”. The women here can be seen in full FANY uniform, the only difference being the addition of an AAGB arm badge on their left sleeve.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9714Watermarked

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all of our American friends! Remembering back to the ASL pre Independence Day drinks back in 2017, what an amazing event which I’ll remember forever!MG_ASiLJuly18-2958.jpg

The Women at War Memorial

While in London recently we visited the memorial to “The Women of World War II” This is the first time I have managed to get there so it was lovely to see it in person. We laid two crosses there which means we’ve now done it for all three members killed during the war. One is to an un known member as there is still some uncertainty as to who exactly she was. The other which is to Officer Ensign Marjory S Butler who was killed by “Injuries sustained from enemy action” in May 1941 when the Alexandra Hotel, London was bombed.

Grosvenor Gardens

We Recently took a trip down to London and couldn’t help visiting some AAGB landmarks! Grosvenor Gardens really is the home of the AAGB, It’s where they had a number of parades including their formation parade. It’s also where they were headquartered for a number of years. We took some time to try and re create the great photo we got at the beginning of the year. It isn’t quite perfect but not bad, you can really picture the vehicles stretching as far as the eye can see!

Future Posts

Hi everyone, Just to keep you updated, for the time being we will be having a new post go live on the blog every other Thursday at 06:00 GMT. The first one is this week, we hope you enjoy them and If you are interested in seeing more or a specific thing then you are always welcome “contact us”.

Leeds

Recently we popped up to Leeds for the day. I’ve got loads of photos which I will be uploading to the site gradually but I thought I’d start off with this. The AAGB used the garage of Rowland Winn in Leeds, all through the war the AAGB served from here and all the AAGB training for the country was done at Leeds so it was quite an important station. Below is an original photo of the facade of the garage (photo from http://www.leodis.net) behind the showroom was a vast garage space that stretched from Woodhouse Lane about half the way back to Wade Lane. The access to the garage that the AAGB used was via the now long gone St Columba street in the left of the black and white photo. Now you’d hope that such a beautiful looking late 1930’s car dealership front would still be there but sadly not. In its place now is a 1960’s monstrosity – The Merrion Centre, more specifically the garage was located where the Morrisons now is! I was amazed at how much Leeds has been developed since the war, it is certainly  a city that has seen a lot of change over the years.

The passing of a great supporter

We were saddened to learn the other week of the sudden passing of Raymond Colledge, former chairman of The American Society in London who died suddenly in early December last year. Ray was a huge supporter of this project and wrote the foreword for my book back in 2017. He invited me to the ASL’s pre Independence Day drinks in June last year and encouraged me to give a speech on the AAGB. Every so often he would check in to see how things were going and offer words of encouragement! Not many people would have believed a 17 year old when I appeared out the blue and said I was going to write a book but Ray did, he always believed in me and in this project to remember the AAGB. I am pleased to have called him a supporter and even more pleased to call him a friend. Thank you for your support over the last few years Ray, you will be truly missed.

A letter from Dame Vera

I was honoured to get this and a covering letter back in the post late last year. A copy of my book so kindly signed by the forces sweetheart herself, Dame Vera Lynn. I sent Dame Vera a copy for herself too which she said she was pleased to receive, she was interested to hear about the AAGB and what we’re doing to remember them.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8a53Watermarked

A new acquisition

We seem to be getting lucky at the moment with finding new photos that we have never seen before Here’s the first and I shall post the other up when I receive it. I purchased this photo about a month ago. This shows the AAGB’s first public parade in 1940. A mix of Surgical units, First Aid Posts and Ambulances are seen here lined up along the west side of Grosvenor Gardens. The AAGB were inspected here by the Minister of Health who gave a speech thanking those who donated to the AAGB and wishing them luck in the work which they were setting out to do. An interesting point to note is the air raid shelters tat were built in the gardens, now but a distant memory!UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_910eWatermarked