One thing Jacqui Ravens didn’t miss was the heat; another was Seargent John Stevenson. Hauled before his relentless adherence to the rules there were times Jaqui thought she would have to steal a Hurricane and fly off to fight the enemy alone. Rommel wasn’t that far, and she was sure she could make a dent in his front line.
“Traitors have no place in our forces.” Jacqui had had this conversation many times. Stevenson was obsessed with the idea someone from the Australian Core had been stealing flight plans and selling them to the Nazis.
“They knew we were coming. The only reason I survived was the fact I was grounded with mumps. A whole squadron shot down. Gone!” Jacqui braced herself for the inevitable tirade.
Jacqui had been a teacher before the war. Physics. Which in itself was unusual, what with being a woman. Now she found herself in the middle of a world war. Responsible for saving lives, preventing invasions and dealing with difficult people.
Perhaps it’s not that different Jacqui mused. Apart from the invasion bit and the sleeping in a tent.
Looking closely at Stevenson, Jacqui was reminded of her headmaster back in Perth. Her boss had been fair, however, and she quickly rose up the ranks.
Enrolling in the war effort had been popular in Australia, and there had been quite the rush at the booths. All walks of life now fought side by side with mot of the women in the typing pool as they obviously couldn’t fly planes.
“Remind me how you came to be a pilot? ” Jacqui often surprised the rank and file with her bluntness. They usually assumed she had grown up with brothers, but she was an only child.
“No one knows how to fly. I was a bus driver in Melbourne. We are taught here. In about two weeks!” She noticed his rising temperature and rising voice.
“What with losing a whole squadron perhaps some of the ladies should be trained up. In two weeks. It would be faster than waiting for recruits to ship over.” Jacqui waved her hand across the typing pool, sixty typists tapping away.
“It’s not appropriate.” Stevenson’s face was red. Jacqui’s back stiffened. Flashing Stevenson a glare she rose from her seat.
“I’d like to remind you that we are all fighting for freedom. These women would be more than capable of flying a plane.” Jacqui took a deep breath inaudibly.
Walking out of the typing pool, Jacqui met the stare of the north African sun with a wince.
This heat, she thought, is relentless.
The battle far from won, she turned to her tent and opened the door. Just as hot inside, Jacqui sat exhausted behind her desk.
Taking out a new paper, she rolled it into the Remmington typewriter and began:
Requesting the immediate transfer for Seargent Stevenson Third Airbourne Division, Australian Corps, North Africa.
Reason: Reoccuring Insubordination.
General Jacqui Ravens.”