RAF repays wartime debt to 99-year-old veteran

A 99-year-old veteran has had her Second World War debt repaid by the RAF after she was presented with five shilling coins.

Peggy Terry served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and when she was discharged in 1945 was still owed the money.

The debt, discovered by chance during the COVID pandemic, was repaid 77 years later by the Air Force during a special ceremony in Mrs Terry’s home in Gorslas, Carmarthenshire.

During the pandemic, Aircraft Specialist First Class William Anderson, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, was deployed to South Wales as part of an operation assisting the NHS.

In February, he and a paramedic attended Mrs Terry's home in an ambulance, and the veteran recognised his beret.

A conversation revealed they had shared the same Lincolnshire base, but that the veteran was still owed five shillings for her service there during the Second World War.

As a gesture of appreciation, RAF Coningsby asked Aircraft Specialist First Class Anderson to present her with the shillings, which are dated 1941 to 1945 and reflect the years she served.

Mrs Terry was also presented with her rank badge and a framed print of the current aircraft at RAF Coningsby and those based there during the war.

An inscription says: "To Peggy, it was an honour and privilege to meet you and I would like to say on behalf of the RAF Coningsby and the whole RAF thank you for your service.

"We have a debt to you and everyone you served with that we can never repay."

Military personnel receive training to work with the Welsh Ambulance Service in October 2021.
Military personnel worked with the Welsh Ambulance Service in October 2021.

Holding the coins, which are worth about 25p in today's money, Mrs Terry said: "I haven't got a clue what I could have spent them on. They're heavy."

Mrs Terry, who served under her maiden name of Margaret Potter, was a Leading Aircraftwoman and, during an 18-month stint at RAF Coningsby towards the end of the war, helped service the Lancaster bombers.

"I was sparking plug cleaner on the Lancaster bombers. The plugs all had to be kept for the same engine until they got damaged, and they were replaced," she said.

"The engineers used to bring the plugs in to us, and we had to strip them down and clean them in petrol, which wasn't very nice, and then reassemble them.

"The main part was resetting the points – that was essential. We did other engines as well, depending on the aircraft that were on the station.

"It is a trivial little thing, but it is so essential," she added.