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Remembrance Day: Dorothy Scott, 93, recounts her WWII RAF days

Dorothy Scott's job during the Second World War was to plot airplanes, both friend and foe, for the Royal Air Force from a farmhouse in the south of Cornwall. The Guelph resident shares her stories from the war with The Morning Edition host Craig Norris.
Guelph's Dorothy Scott was stationed in Cornwall during the Second World War. She worked as an airplane plotter for the Royal Air Force as part of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. (Craig Norris/CBC)

Canadians from coast to coast marked Remembrance Day on Tuesday, honouring and thinking of those who gave their lives while in uniform. For 93-year-old Dorothy Scott, those reflections are very personal.

Scott's job during the Second World War was to plot airplanes, friend or foe, for the Royal Air Force from a farmhouse in the south of Cornwall. 

Scott, who lives in Guelph now, was just 20 years old when she enlisted in the RAF in 1941, when she served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). Her name was Dorothy Green back then, and she had just wrapped up her studies at the University of St. Andrew's in Scotland. 

"By then I'd finished my degree and you know - what next? Of course the obvious thing to do was to enlist," said Scott,  who was born in England but moved to Canada with her family when she was five months old.

"I was a plotter," she told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris. "Recording the flights of our own aircraft, and of any potential enemy aircraft."

Scott had to track friendly aircraft, which emitted a radio signal once every five minutes.  
Scott has kept photos, telegrams and other notes from her time in the WAAF during the Second World War. (Craig Norris/CBC)

"When we received this, we got a fix on it and then actually pulled out pieces of string and triangulated this, and guessed where in this triangle the aircraft was," she said.

She also had to track enemy aircraft, but those were more difficult before the widespread use of radar. Air spotters would identify the enemy aircraft visually, and then Scott and her fellow WAAFs (as her comrades were known) would triangulate the planes. 

Scott says their operation was on a farm that was supposed to be top secret. But one day a pilot came down in the ocean off the coast, and along with his navigator, paddled to shore in a small boat. The pilot climbed a cliff that was supposed to be impossible to climb, and asked a local where the nearest RAF base was, which was the farm where Scott was working.

The pilot arrived at the farm, sought help for his navigator, who was rescued and then given a space to sleep in a little shed designated as a rest area for the servicewomen. 

"When he came out the poor lad, all these WAAFs looking at him in admiration and he's blushing away. It was nothing but women of course, in the ops," said Scott of the base. 

Listen to Dorothy Scott's interview with Craig Norris at the top of the page.

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