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Home / Latest News / Wartime memoirs help scoop book prize for 91-year-old Eileen Younghusband

Wartime memoirs help scoop book prize for 91-year-old Eileen Younghusband

A wartime volunteer has won an online book prize for her celebrated memoir – at the age of 91.

Eileen Younghusband, from Sully, was barely out of her teens when she joined the  Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and worked in filter  rooms around Britain, collecting vital  radar information identifying enemy aircraft and  warning of air raids.

She was later posted to France  to prevent rocket attacks and,  when war ended, was sent  to  Belgium to interpret at the  liberated Breendonk concentration camp.

Her book – One Woman’s War, published by Cardiff  publishing company Candy Jar – recalls her life at war and in  post-war Europe. It beat 12 other finalists to win  the non-fiction category of the  People’s Book Prize.

Eileen, who was awarded a  British Empire Medal in this  year’s New Year’s Honours for her  wartime work, said: “I  would like to thank everybody for voting for me. I  am delighted.

“However, I do feel some of the recognition must go to the  small band of women who  went to war and contributed to  victory in the filter rooms of  RAF Fighter Command in the defence of Britain. I dedicate  this award to all of them.”

As well as sending out warnings of air raids, Eileen and fellow filter room officers located allied pilots in distress, helped launch air-sea rescue and guided coastal gun crews.

On the map table Eileen saw the invasion fleet heading for Normandy on D-Day and received the coded warning of the first V2 rocket as it approached London.

Her work was so secret she could not even discuss it with colleagues.

It was not until 1980 that Eileen learned some filter room information came from Germany’s secret code machine Enigma, cracked by teams at Bletchley Park.

Bletchley, now a museum, has placed an order to sell her book, as has London’s Imperial War Museum.

The People’s Book Prize is a  literary competition open to all  published authors and is judged solely by  the general public with voting  online.

The annual prize was started in 2010 following the death of  its founding patron the writer  Dame Beryl Bainbridge.

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