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The youngest WAAAF in the service: Jean Williamson

This was taken at Point Cook in 1945 in the mess hall.

I got to cut the cake because I was the youngest registered WAAAF in the service at the time.

The girl standing next to me was a month older than I. She just scraped in.

It was near the end, and it's horrible and selfish to say, but I was a bit disappointed.

I sort of hoped it would go on a few months longer.

Everything was new and exciting. It was first foray into the wider world.

I wasn't top of the class, but I got through the training. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun too.

Living on base, we got passes to go to the dances at the Catholic churches, the Trocadero, the Palais Royal in Carlton. Tangos, charmaines, foxtrots, gypsy taps, waltzes, barn dance, we did it all.

The dance halls were crowded when the servicemen were on leave. I asked politely ‘Would you like to dance?’ You rarely knocked one back. It was at one of these dances that I met my husband, Noel.

I can only remember three people in the photo; Sister Mann, Group Captain Burrage whose houses I cleaned at the time.

The other is a young Aboriginal man, a cook in the main mess.

Looking back as an Aboriginal woman, I never paid any attention to this man. I don't know his name or who he was, but at the time I didn't know I was Aboriginal.

I was the oldest of twelve children living in a two bedroom house in Collingwood. I was taken out of school to help Mum at home and it was hard. Mum must have known she was Aboriginal, but I was so light skinned and never questioned it and no one ever mentioned it.

When I found out, my life changed. I started going to the league with my sisters. Occasionally, people asked ‘What's gubba doing here?’ It hurts, but I can't help the way I am. I've got a black heart and that's what counts.I've loved going to the league, the ACES choir, and being part of the community.

When I look back on my time in the WAAAFs, it was only 14 months. Not much really, not compared to some. I wonder now what happened to the young men and all those happy young faces?

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