Naafi, Nijmegen & the Path to Norway

The Nijmegen Marches
ISBN 9-781-84683-170-6
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by Joan Blackburn
Further adventures of a WRAF Airwoman – 1971 and beyond.

In the second instalment of her RAF memoirs Joan Blackburn reveals why she re-joined the RAF in 1971 after an 8-year hiatus and what happened next.

IT IS 1971 and a secretary, who is nearer thirty than she wants to be, decides to return to the WRAF, to which she had said goodbye back in 1963. As this sequel to Naafi, Knickers & Nijmegen begins she reflects on her activities during the past decade and agonises over what to do next.

What will it be like to go back a second time and, perhaps, come across familiar faces, both welcome and unwelcome? What did she do in the intervening years and how will she adjust to being the ‘old lady’ to the teenagers as they join up for the first time in a WRAF which was already changing? Will she do the Nijmegen March again and maybe meet a man to change her life?

For those who have read the original book, which was written in 1964 but not published until 2009, this sequel written in 2015, answers all those questions and more. For others it is a window on life in the WRAF at a time when the world was a much more innocent place than it is now and a look at how things started to change.

It is not about being ‘at the sharp end’ or exploits of ‘derring-do’. It’s about having Air Force blue blood that never goes away, and passes from generation to generation. It also shows how life can be a series of circles.

Most of the names are real but one or two have been changed (to protect the guilty).

Joan Blackburn was born in Woking in 1941. Her first book ‘Naafi, Knickers & Nijmegen’ was published in 2009 and told of her adventures in the WRAF between 1959 and 1963.

After the success of this tale of Air Force life in the swinging sixties, Joan was encouraged to go back a generation for her second book ‘Granddad’s Rainbow’. This told of life on the home front both during and immediately after the war and featured her parents, Lily and Stan. It is against the, fast disappearing, upstairs/ downstairs life of her grandparents where they worked for the gentry and also against the background of Stan’s life in the RAF serving in France and Malta and the steadfastness of Lily as she waited for him to come home.

In ‘The Tailor’s Daughter’ Joan went back still further to the Victorian life of her Great Grandmother on Lily’s side of the family, who, in the 1880s set sail for New Zealand on her own. Lily’s maiden name was Gosley. Her grandfather married the plucky Charlotte Adshead and the decision they were forced to make, soon after their marriage, affected every generation thereafter. This trilogy of books cover 150 years of family history.

Joan is married to Norman Blackburn and lives in West Sussex. She has two children, Catherine and David, and four small grandchildren, Jacob, Alice, Harvey and Keira.

details softback | 204 pages | size 205 x 140 mm | monochrome photos