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Lambs in Blue
By Rebecca Barnett

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Lambs in Blue

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Lambs in Blue
By Rebecca Barnett
Isis Reminiscence Series
Isis Large Print, 2003
ISBN: 0-7531-9864-9
Genre: Memoir - World War II, WAAF

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - August 24, 2003

During World War II, Britain required men to serve in the military or to work at a job that was vital to the war effort. In 1941 the National Service Act was ameneded to allow for the conscription of women. By this time many British women were already doing 'War Work'. Many of these women were serving in military units, which had begun to open their ranks to women in 1938, others were working in ammunition factories and as farm hands.

Rebecca Barnett turned eighteen in 1941, and shortly thereafter decided to leave her office job to 'join up'. Barnett, and two of her friends, joined the WAAF's (Women's Auxiliary Air Force). This was a branch of the British Royal Air Force (RAF). There term of enlistment was indefinite, but they knew that they would most likely have to remain in service for the duration of the war. Likewise, when they joined up they had very little idea as to what kind of work they would be required to do, where they would serve, or the dangers they would face.

In Lambs in Blue, Barnett chronicles her experiences in the WAAF's during World War II. The title of this book, Lambs in Blue comes from the fact that most of the women who entered the WAAF's were very young, and very innocent. Clothed in their uniforms of blue they were often placed in situations for which their life experiences had not trained them to deal with.

Barnett's reminiscence about her life in the WAAF's is candid and enthralling. This book gives the reader insights into the role of women in the British military during World War II, and how they were treated by their fellow servicemen. It also offers interesting tidbits of information not often conveyed in standard history texts, such as the fact that the women were given a lecture on sex shortly after joining up and that the Air Force offered courses on the Domestic Arts.

During her years of service, Barnett worked as a signals operator, running a teleprinter machine. She served in various locations throughout England, and eventually volunteered for service in France. Much to her surprise, the ship she boarded for France ended up in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It was in Ceylon, working in an isolated jungle base in Koggala that she was most imperilled. Not only was the area infested with venomous snakes, but there were over 2,000 men on the base and only 40 women!

Lambs in Blue is an eye opening and memorable look a Barnett's life during the war. In this reminiscence, she allows us to get a sense of the conditions in which the WAAF's worked and lived, and what they felt about their contributions to the British war effort. Barnett also allows us to take a peak at the personal side of her life, the men she met and loved, the friends she made along the way, and her feelings about those that did not survive the war. In the process we see how the young, innocent lambs that joined the WAAF's were transformed into strong, vibrant women whose sense of adventure and patriotism helped to win the war.


Lambs in Blue can be purchased online, directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Isis Publishing.


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