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International Women’s Day – Rosemary’s Story

Wing Commander Rosemary Partington (now 91 years young) served for 30 years as a Nursing Officer in the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF), from 1952 through to 1988. Over three decades she was posted to Changi in Singapore, Cyprus and Germany as well as closer to home at Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital at RAF Halton.

As a veteran, Rosemary has dedicated many years to volunteering for The Not Forgotten.

Already a trained nurse and midwife when she joined up, Rosemary served initially as staff nurse before promotion after three years to nursing officer.

In the 1950s all WRAF personnel had to be single, and men and women were billeted of course in separate accommodation. But Rosemary saw no issue with this; it was simply “how things were” in a different era.

Crucially, service in the WRAF life gave Rosemary opportunities she would never have had as a female civilian.

“I loved every minute of my service”, she says, “I enjoyed every posting, they were all different but all broadened my horizons. The money might have been poor, but I was able to see the world! From Singapore I visited Sri Lanka, from Cyprus I went to Jerusalem and Lebanon, from Germany I explored Scandinavia. Wonderful!”

Life for women in the RAF today is of course very different – “nurses have degrees now!”, but Rosemary believes RAF life still offers amazing opportunities to broaden horizons, and her advice to young servicewomen today would be to seize every opportunity and whatever challenges come your way: “Just keep going!”