Candy Jar is delighted to be able to say "Happy 95th Birthday!" to the incredible Eileen Younghusband today. Reaching such a golden age is only one of the formidable achievements this lady had made throughout her time, and we'd like to take this opportunity to share a few more today!
Aged 16, Eileen joined the Women's Auxilliary Air Force in 1941 in one of the top secret roles: Clerk Special Duties. She and her co-workers had to sign the Official Secrets Act, preventing them from telling their families and friends about the work they did in the unknown Filter Rooms.
In the war years that followed, Eileen proved herself and went further and further up the ranks, becoming one of the youngest Filterer Officers ever. Any historic event, from the Little Boats of Dunkirk to the time Winston Churchill accidentally flew in without his "IFF" (Information Friend or Foe) signal - Eileen Younghusband was there.
On June 6th 1944, Eileen was working on shift during Operation Neptune, the code name for the D-Day landings of Allied Forces on the French coast and celebrated the success with her co-workers.
On September 8th 1944, Eileen received the "Big Ben" alert, indicating the first V2 rocket launch from Germany against London - one of the most iconic moments in history.
Credit: Warren Allott
On November 16th 1944, Eileen was sent onwards to Second Tactical Air Force in Beligum, gifted the task of working within a highly specialised team to detect the V2 rocket launchers until June 1945.
When VE Day arrived, and Germany had been defeated, Eileen's job wasn't at an end. She was sent to Breendonk, a liberated concentration camp, where she was instructed to act as a guide and translator to RAF officers sent there to learn of the horrors thathad occurred.
In the post-war years, Eileen has remained an unstoppable force. Aged 87, Eileen achieved one of her life's ambitions of attaining a university degree, and remains an active campaigner for health and education. Due to the Official Secrets Act, for 30 years after the war Eileen's story remained a secret from all she knew; her friends, her family, and even her husband Peter Younghusband whom she married in 1945 and their son Clive Younghusband, born 1946.
It wasn't until 2011 when Eileen published her first war-time autobiography that her story, and the story of thousands of other women, was told.
One Woman's War went on to win the People's Book Prize 2012/13, and has become a widely recognised authority on the realities of war-time Britain and the role of of the women in the Filter Rooms in the Second World War.
Now, Eileen feels that it's time to share her story with the younger generation. Launched today, on her 95th birthday, Candy Jar is honoured to announce the publication of Eileen's third book Eileen's War.
As veterans gradually age and pass away, many of them taking their memories with them, Eileen sees her children’s memoir as her ‘legacy’ book. She says: “I think it is really important to engage with young people about World War II. It’s a pivotal moment in our history. I feel my book helps to make a sense of the insecurities we all face at the moment. In truth I am not going to be around forever, but if my story can live on from generation to generation this will be wonderful.”
Eileen continues: “When I wrote One Woman’s War I wanted to shine a light on the work done by the women of the Filter Room. At the time our position in history had almost been forgotten. Now I am so proud that the women’s contribution has been acknowledged.”
Once again, Eileen tells the story of the Second World War with frank and charming voice, peppered with hilarious anecdotes of a young girl who found herself in the middle of it all. Eileen's War is the legacy of an inspiring true story which will live on. Fans of Roald Dah's Boy and Flying Solo, and Jennifor Worth's Call The Midwife will love Eileen's latest memoir. You can order yours today here.
From everybody here at Candy Jar Books, we're so proud to be able to celebrate and share the work of one incredible golden lady. Her ambition, drive and outlook on life inspires each of us here, and we're delighted for Eileen Younghusband to be a friend of Candy Jar Books.