Norwich City Football Club is delighted to welcome special guest Joan Awbery as our Community Hero for our match against Swansea City as we show our support to locally-based service personnel as part of our annual Armed Forces Day.
Joan, 98, joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War where the range of duties included working as drivers, mess orderlies, bakers, postal workers, ammunition inspectors and military police.
Thinking back to when she joined, Joan said: “My papers arrived in January 1942 with instructions to report to Talavera Camp, Northampton with the minimum of baggage. We were instructed to collect our uniforms and equipment and then shown to our wooden Nissan huts, known as 'sleeping quarters’. Our six weeks training of various lectures and drill parades was during the coldest winter for a decade, out on the barrack square in snow in bits of ill-fitting uniform.
“I had volunteered to be a driver, but in the frost and snow opted for office work, with shorthand and typing to offer. I was asked where I would like to be posted so I suggested Scotland but was sent to Cambridge, 25 miles from my home – employed as PA to a Brigade Major. My next job was with the Army Kinematograph Service where I was a part of providing films required by the Army for training, educational and recreational purposes."
For the remaining months of the war, Joan was sent to Brussels where she worked in the BLA Legal Service as a secretary and spent the celebration of VE Day amongst the parades of returning Belgians and hordes of local residents in the streets.
Once the celebrations were over, Joan recalled a special flying memory: “A week or two later, I had my first-ever flight on a Dakota aircraft where I sat on a kit bag all the way to Germany and crossed over the vast Rhine which we had heard so much about.
“We were based in a lovely small Spa town, called Bad Zaluzflen in the Lippe district of North Rhine-Westphalia and I was fortunate to have the chance of accompanying my Major to duties in other towns and went on leaves to Paris, Brussels, the Harz Mountains and the Möhne dam.”
After signing on for another six months, Joan was demobbed in Guildford in July 1946.
Lyn Hatch, Chairman of the Women’s Royal Army Corps, said: “I nominated Joan as NCFC’s Community Hero as she is one of many women of her generation who has been a wonderful role model for women in the services. She was for many years, instrumental in the running of ATS/WRAC Association in Norfolk, organising events and regular meetings for the members and has worked tirelessly raising funds to support the association and its members in both Norfolk and Suffolk.”
Please give a big Carrow Road welcome this evening to Joan Awbery as she brings out the match ball ahead of our game against Swansea City.
At every Sky Bet Championship home match, Norwich City will invite a deserving community-minded individual(s) to be their ‘Community Hero’ and place the match ball on to a special plinth prior to kick off.
Whether the individual works in the emergency services or the armed forces, is a carer or charity champion, a super fan or a regional sporting hero, the initiative celebrates their contribution to the local community. If there is anyone you think deserves special recognition for their community efforts or personal achievements, please visit the Community Hero page HERE.