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Have you got your irons? It's a Waaf's life Have you got your irons?
It's a Waaf's life

Yvonne Peters

ISBN: 978-1-902019-07-9

(Old ISBN: 1 902019 07 5)

288 pages, paperback, 146mm x 208mm.
14 photographs and 2 illustrations

Published by Greenridges Press, July 2004.
Reprinted January 2005, March 2006

Price: £ 8.99 Postage and Packing:

About the Book

In 1942, desperate to get away from her domineering father and a hated typing job in the Civil Service, 19-year-old Yvonne decides to join the WAAF and be independent for the first time in her life. On her first day, she and the other recruits are issued with a knife, fork and spoon each – their ‘irons’. These, it is impressed upon them, are to be guarded with their lives. If they lose them they will not be issued with a second set. Metal is so valuable to the war effort that they will either have to eat with their fingers or go hungry. Hereafter, the first and last question whenever she is posted to a new place is “Have you got your irons?”

After basic training, Yvonne fails a WAAF shorthand typing test and is asked to choose between photography and cooking. She picks photography on the grounds that she knows how to work a Box Brownie camera. Soon she is in her element, relishing her newfound freedom and the company of her fellow Waafs. A convent-educated girl, she starts to meet young servicemen (on a strictly ‘above the waist’ basis). One of them warns her about the way airmen talk about girls with loose morals and she promises him that she will never ‘do it’.

She comes top of her photography course in Blackpool and is sent to No 13 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Bicester in Oxfordshire, where her job is to develop and print film taken by trainee Blenheim pilots learning to carry out aerial mapping. In spite of the Air Force’s petty rules she loves her work and begins to grow up. Then illness strikes at home…

The Author
Yvonne Peters

Yvonne says...

I was born in 1923. Discipline at home and at my Convent School was strict. Father’s secure job in the Civil Service shielded us from the poverty due to unemployment during the Depression in the early Thirties. As a child I was content with my safe world: as a teenager I longed to be free of its restrictions. When World War II broke out in 1939 it affected everyone’s life immediately, including mine. I wrote the book to try and recapture the flavour of wartime life as I knew it, in civvy street and in the WAAF. However, sixty years is a long time and while some memories come back to me pin-sharp, others are hazy and may not always be accurate. It is the same with conversations. Some echo across the years as clear as if they had taken place yesterday; others have had to be reconstituted, as only the gist of them remains. I have changed the names of some of the characters, partly to protect their identities, and partly because in some cases I have forgotten their real ones!

Further information and Reviews
The 15th July 2004 issue of "Horley Life" carried an article about Yvonne and the writing of the book.

WAAF Association News - Issue 33, November 2004, Page 44
"This is a real find. A memoir that reads as smoothly as a well-written novel. The story is a genuine page turner. Despite the subtitle, time is taken to give us some account of the author's life as a schoolgirl and young civilian before getting down to her service career on page fifty-one. By this time Yvonne is just over nineteen years old. Her memories of places and conversations are so detailed that one begins to be astonished at such a feat of memory, but the author disarms one's envy by admitting every so often that she cannot remember some name or place. She gives no sign that she kept a diary during those years but it is, I believe, the spirit of the times that comes over so convincingly; no one would expect the dialogue she reports to be an exact transcript of what was spoken, that would not be realistic. The fact is that her narrative sounds and feels right throughout. Yvonne gives public thanks to her friend and editor and there is every indication that great care was taken with the preparation of the text for printing. Only two typographical errors were spotted in the whole book. At £8.99 this is a good buy as well as a good read." JA
Reprinted from WAAF Association News with the permission of the editors

The Journal of the Royal Air Force Boy Entrant Photographers Association, Edition 22, Spring 2006, P35
Click on the cover photo to see the original of this review.

'Have you got your irons?' 'It's a WAAF's life' By Yvonne Peters
Published by Greenridges Press, 13 Vale Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 1PL
ISBN 1-902019-07-5 £8.99 272 pages paperback

I was surfing the net a while back looking for anything to do with RAF Photography when I came upon this little gem. I thought it was most refreshing to find something from the 'fairer' sex, if we are allowed to say that any more!

I sent off for the book and had a lovely letter from Yvonne saying she was sorry but she had run out of books but that she had organised one to be sent to me from the publishers. Well, I can tell you that her letter and the book arrived the same day. Very efficient. Only what we would expect from a Royal Air Force trained person of course!

The book is mainly about Yvonne's wartime experiences both in and out of the Royal Air Force. Yvonne did not actually spend very long in the RAF as you will read if you buy the book, however her account of eventually joining up and her experiences of both training and active photographic units are entertaining and fascinating. She had a hard young life with a very strict father dominating the scene with mother of course a little in the background trying to keep the peace! I will not go much further in describing her story as it will spoil it for you but as most of our readership is ex photographers I feel this is a nice little addition to one's bookcase and all credit to Yvonne for having the courage to write it so late in life. I also had the pleasure of a telephone call from the Peters' household asking how to join RAFBEPA! So that was fantastic. If there are other WAAF or WRAF Photographers out there (there must be hundreds) get them to join.

Chris Pettman - Editor, The Journal of the Royal Air Force Boy Entrant Photographers Association, Edition 22, Spring 2006, P35

You can find the Royal Air Force Boy Entrant Photographers Association's website at


Contact Details

The book can be obtained from Mr P Peters, 35 Avenue Gardens, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9BS. Please make cheques for £8.99 + p+p, payable to "Mr P Peters".

STATUS - Copies of the book are available.

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