Hester Mews recalls radar tracking during WWII


Memories: Mrs Hester Mews remembers the war years well.
Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au   d452904
Memories: Mrs Hester Mews remembers the war years well. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au d452904

The 92-year-old worked as a radar operator in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force during World War II, tracking every aircraft that entered and exited airspace around Brisbane.

“It was very involved, every plane that took off at any time would have to go through our operations room,” she said.

“It was very interesting but I didn’t think much of it at the time, I just did it.”

Signing up for service was natural for Mrs Mews, whose family were involved in the war effort.

Her father was a World War I veteran, her brother joined the air force and her mum volunteered with a women’s army service.

She said some of her most vivid memories were of the air raid sirens. “I can still hear them, blood curdling things they were,” she said.

Mrs Mews also recalled tracking three unknown objects in 1942 while on duty.

“We followed them all night,” she said. “Nobody knew what this thing was. We didn’t have a clue how it got there.”

The next day, three Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney Harbour, one of which sank a depot ship, killing 21 sailors.

But Mrs Mews looked back fondly on her service.

“I just treasure all those years; I had some wonderful friends,” she said.

Growing up, Mrs Mews’ father ensured they always celebrated Anzac Day.

“After the war, we’d never miss an Anzac Day, it didn’t matter where we were,” she said.

She has continued the tradition, attending Royal Australian Air Force Association’s Cambrai Village service since moving there from Yanchep in 2000.

“On Anzac Day I’ll be there watching the sun rise, listening to the bands play and thinking of all the people involved,” she said.

“I have so many memories.”