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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October, 2003, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
Queen honours wartime heroines
Wartime recruitment poster for the Auxiliary Territorial Service
The Queen served as an ATS recruit during World War II
The Queen has relived World War II memories of her days in the services at the opening of a new exhibition to mark the efforts of British women in wartime.

She chatted at the Imperial War Museum in London to six fellow former members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service who she trained with on a driving and mechanics course.

The Queen - who in 1945 was known as No230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor - spoke of her admiration for women in the forces.

She told guests: "From my experience as a Second Subaltern in the ATS, I began to understand the esprit de corps that flourishes in the face of adversity and forges friendships which last a lifetime.

"Throughout my reign, I have watched with admiration how women in the three services and many related organisations have taken on wider responsibilities and evermore demanding roles on land, on sea and in the air."

Eileen Hall, 87, of Maidstone, Kent, recalled her impression of the Queen as they trained alongside each other.

"She was absolutely charming and she was very hard-working.

"She found it very strange to be working with a lot of people. I'm quite certain that's why she sent her daughter to a public school because she enjoyed being with others," Ms Hall said.

Vera Lynn

Fellow member of the ATS, Elizabeth Turnball, 80, of Dumfries, said: "She was very shy but very interested in everything that was going on and very, very good at doing what she had to do."

The Queen chatted to the women while they looked at a 1940s army vehicle outside the Imperial War Museum, where the Women At War exhibition is being staged.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of Kent, the Queen also met Dame Vera Lynn, who became the Forces' Sweetheart as a singer during the War.

Dame Vera, 86, said: "It could take forever to talk about what women did during the war, from the nurses in the hospitals to the girls that drove buses. There's no end to the jobs they did."

The Queen was also introduced to model Nell McAndrew, who was a pin-up favourite during the conflict with Iraq.

The Queen meets former members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service
The Queen met former members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service

Ms McAndrew told the Queen she was hoping to visit the troops in Iraq for a second time after going on a morale-boosting visit earlier this year.

Baroness Betty Boothroyd, who has been campaigning for a permanent monument to mark the achievements of women during wartime, announced that permission had been granted in the past few days for a memorial in Whitehall.

She told guests: "It's been a long struggle but finally this nation will have its own lasting tribute."

Describing the role of women in World War II, she said: "No job was too difficult, no job was too dangerous, no job was too small and no job was too dirty."


Also present was former BBC war correspondent Kate Adie who has written a book to accompany the exhibition - it tells the story of servicewomen, land girls, secret agents, pilots and peacekeepers from World War I to the present day.

Exhibits range from medals and pistols to wedding dresses worn by Lindsay Forde, who was widowed in both world wars.

Mementoes of World War II include equipment used by the sniper Lyudmilla Pavlichenko and Russian fighter pilots known as the "Night Vixens".

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