RAF Stories – Amazing Mothers

As today is Mother’s Day we would like to feature several RAF stories about mothers. In this blog, we combine the stories of people whose mothers served in the RAF and stories about mothers of RAF personnel.

Jackie Moggridge with her daughter Candida

Our first story is from Katherine Du Plat-Taylor, who joined the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War instead of learning Domestic Science in College like her mother wanted. Katherine served as an Operations Clerk deep underground in the tunnels below Dover. She worked with Air Sea Rescue, plotting the location of aircraft on a table map in an operations room, saving the lives of hundreds of pilots.

Her service required a lot of courage and self-sacrifice, but can you even imagine how terrifying it was for her mother? The story that Katherine reveals in this video can be told about many other mothers, whose children were serving in the military during the war. Every day they lived in fear of receiving some terrible news from the front line.

The heroine of our second story was serving in the RAF herself during the Second World War. Candida Adkins’ mother, Dolores Therese Moggridge, also known as Jackie, served as an ATA pilot, flying more than 1,500 aircraft including Spitfires and received the King’s Commendation for Service in the Air.

Jackie Moggridge

In this video Candida tells the story about her mother’s parachute jump. Jackie was the first woman who made a parachute jump in South Africa. This story reveals in detail what a fearless and daring lady Candida’s mother was.

Lynn Martin came to the RAF Museum London to see the portrait of her mother, Violet Sharples, in our recent art exhibition War Brides by Bev Tosh, a Canadian artist. The exhibition portraits showed young women who fell in love and got married to the airmen from different countries during the Second World War.

War Brides Exhibition at the RAF Museum London

Violet served as a Leading Airwoman in the RAF and plotted the dreaded V-1 Flying Bombs (“buzz bombs”) detected by early Radar entering British airspace during the Second World War.

At the end of the war Violet fell in love with a Canadian pilot and became his war bride. In 1946, following her husband, she immigrated from England to Canada. Violet’s story reflects the stories of thousands of other young and brave women who made an amazing leap of faith for the love of an airman and moved to the other countries away from their friends and families to start a new life there.

Our next video shows two incredible ladies, a mother and a daughter, who are believed to be the first mother and daughter in the RAF to both become chartered engineers. Group Captain Emily Flynn who is currently serving as an engineer in the RAF, followed the footsteps of her mother, Suzanne Flynn.

However, in Suzanne’s time Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) was much more male-dominated. It was very challenging for her to push the boundaries and choose the career of an RAF engineer. In this video Suzanne tells the story of how she discovered this opportunity and became the inspiration her daughter needed to follow in her footsteps.

Flight Lieutenant Joan Ochuodho joined the RAF in the age of 24 after a succession of jobs in marketing and accounting and serving in the Navy. As she decided to join the RAF in 2003 right at the heat of Afghanistan conflict, all her family disapproved of her idea. Her mother, who was living in Kenya, was the only one who supported Joan and encouraged her to change her career.

In this video, Joan explains how vital it was to have her mother’s support and how it has changed her life.

Our last story is from Emma Marianne, an RAF mother whose son serves in the RAF. When her son joined the RAF Regiment as a Gunner in October 2017, Emma decided to undertake an epic walk to raise money and awareness for the RAF Association. During her ‘Walk for Wings’ she walked more than 2,000 miles visiting all active RAF Stations on the U.K’s mainland finishing in RAF Lossiemouth, where her son was serving at the time.

Emma Marianne visiting the RAF Museum London during her 'Walk for Wings'

In this video Emma reveals how she felt handing her son over to the RAF. Her experience can be relevant for many other mothers of RAF cadets. Their instinct is to be with their children and to protect them, but they have to ‘take a back seat’ and let their sons and daughters take care of themselves.

We hope you have enjoyed the stories we selected for the Mother’s Day. All these mothers had different experiences but they all had to show bravery, stamina and support for their children and in my opinion I believe that they all succeeded.

RAF Stories Project

These videos are part of our RAF Stories Project which brings together as many people’s experiences with the RAF as possible. You can download our RAF Stories App to discover more stories and share your own.

The app is specifically designed to make the recording of the new story as easy as possible. If you have your own story of an amazing RAF mother or any other RAF story that you would like to share we would love to hear from you.

About the Author

Paul Hudson-Knight: Senior Campaigns Manager

Paul Hudson-Knight joined the Royal Air Force Museum in early 2008, having previously worked in event organisation & commercial radio. He first visited the RAF Museum in London in 1982 and fell in love with it then. His intention is to introduce the Museum to a new generation of young men and women so that they may be as passionate about it as he is.