How My Grandmother Guided Our Boys To Battle The Nazis

This incredible story follows one the hidden women of World War II...

The heart-to-heart between a veteran granddaughter and her 98-year-old RAF grandmother has been made into a feature-length radio programme celebrating the military ties between generations.

'Just a Bowl of Cherries' features an emotive conversation between 2017 Toronto Invictus Games medalist Poppy Pawsey and Leading Aircraftwoman Jessie Jackson about her role in the Second World War.

As the nation remembers the importance and incredible history of the oldest independent air force in the world Poppy asks her 'Nana' about the early days of the RAF.

Jessie Jackson was called up to serve in a Filter Room early on in the war and speaks about the sacrifices women made to keep the RAF flying during World War II.

Listen to Just a Bowl Of Cherries In Full Below


Working as a plotter Jessie monitored allied planes heading off to Europe to fight the war in the skies.

Plotters played a vital role in The Battle of Britain and defending the UK against the Blitz.

Poppy's grandfather Eric James Jackson also served in the RAF during WWII.

His role flying damaged planes back to the UK meant he regularly flew some of history's most iconic planes back home whilst under intense fire.

In the special programme 'Just a Bowl of Cherries' Poppy finds out what day to day life was like for her grandparents as they navigated the world at war.

Poppy hears not only about the bravery of the servicemen and women involved in the RAF but also of the intense pressure the war played on the everyday lives of citizens.

From falling for handsome American soldiers to finding out a loved one hasn't returned home Jessie's life like so many others was profoundly shaped by the war.

Jessie and her husband Eric

Despite Jessie's memory fading in old age, she can still recall the early days of her life and recalls the events of the Second World War with charm, eloquence and wit.

Her musings on life, war and service are all underscored by elegant Romantic era Classical Music as well as show tunes from the early 20th Century.

To celebrate the release of 'Just a Bowl of Cherries' co-producer Poppy Pawsey reflects on her experience of putting the programme together and what her Grandmother means to her.

When my producer William and I decided we were going to do a feature on a WWII veteran, I instantly knew whose story I wanted to tell.

My 'Nana' is a WWII WRAF veteran and is still as spirited as ever at the ripe old age of 98.

As we are celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the RAF, and 'Nana' is nearly the same age as the RAF I thought it was all rather fitting.

'Nana' and I have always shared an extremely close bond, she has hugely supported me and my family throughout our lives.

I am a former servicewoman myself. I served as a Musician in The Royal Marines Band Service for 12 years so it has been such a joy to share military stories together.

We never tire of hearing about my Grandparents time in the military during the war. 

'Nana' was a Leading Aircraftwoman in the WRAF and my grandad was a Spitfire pilot in the RAF.

My conversation with 'Nana' was incredibly intimate and I was honoured by her honesty, modesty and all that she achieved throughout the war and beyond.  

I was struck by her fascinating and sometimes shocking life experiences that most of us could only imagine from a world that has long gone. 

She recounts sleeping in the London Underground during The Blitz where everyone raised morale by singing, telling stories and sharing rations.

The world as we know it was falling apart - and they just kept on going. I can't imagine that, can you?

'Nana's' whole family were affected by The Blitz, they suffered greatly when a bomb landed on their home, killing and injuring her nearest and dearest.

Within a year she was serving her country, fighting for the freedom that we enjoy today.

Every person who has served in The British Armed Forces has a story to tell.

I hope this conversation with the person I most admire can help keep the stories and fading memories of a truly amazing woman alive. 

'Nana' and I share a love of singing, music helped connect me to those I served with in The Royal Marines Band.

Today, it's that passion for music that connects me to this amazing unsung legend - my 'Nana', my hero.