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Bentley Priory war veteran Eileen Younghusband unveils memorial window
A Second World War veteran who spent her teenage years monitoring Nazi bombing fleet at Bentley Priory has returned to reveal a memorial window.
Eileen Younghusband, 91, worked day and night in the Filter Room at the former RAF Fighter Command in Stanmore, analysing data from British radar systems to work out the strength and targets of incoming Luftwaffe aeroplanes.
She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) as an 18-year-old, and would send the information she calculated to senior officers, who would decide whether to launch fighter planes based entirely on the team’s work.
Sworn to secrecy under the Official Secrets Act for 30 years after the war, she decided to write her book One Woman’s War last year to tell the tales of the cramped conditions in the Filter Room, after gaining a degree at the age of 87.
Mrs Younghusband, who gives regular talks about the work of women during the conflict, returned to Bentley Priory last week to unveil a memorial stained glass window which commemorates the work of the WAAF.
She said: “Together with a fellow WAAF officer I helped with the design of the window. This took me back to those dark days of war.
“As I removed the Union flag covering the brass plaque with my name on it, I thought of all who had worked with me and I admit there were tears in my eyes.”
As the war was ending in 1945, Mrs Younghusband was sent on a secret mission into occupied territory to prevent German V2 rockets attacking Belgium, using mobile radars to help prevent attacks on Antwerp by calculating where the missiles came from.
As a fluent French speaker, she was ordered in the last stages of the war to act as an interpreter at Fort Breendonk, a newly-liberated concentration camp in Belgium, known as The Camp of Silence and of Death. She also acted as a guide, showing visiting allied forces the full horrors of the camp.
After being nominated for awards for her first book, Mrs Younghusband is now working on a second where she will tell of notable men she has met throughout her life, such as wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.