A.T.S’ Part in the Invasion
Cornish & Devon Post, 27 January 1945.
A.T.S’ Part in Invasion. “Great Girls of Wading”. Sgt. Peggy Alford of Gunnislake.
The Army called these A.T.S. the “Great Girls of Wading” because their job was to prepare and issue the equipment which enables tanks to wade ashore. It takes several men more than a week to fit up one tank, so if one bagful of the wrong sort of nuts, bolts or washers was issued it would mean a loss of hundreds of working hours. The ATS concentrated so hard to achieve 100 per cent accuracy that, to everyone’s amazement, these was always complete silence in the great shed where they worked.
Conditions at the improved H.Q. were difficult at first; the ATS worked in Wellington boots and ‘Walked the Plank’ daily to keep their feet from sinking in the deep mud. No one thought of stopping work much before midnight, sometimes the ATS fell asleep over
their typewriters or in the lorry going back to their quarters. “Hours meant nothing to them, they refused to go until the job was done.” said an RAOC officer. “They were always smiling and kept up the morale of the men. We found that the ATS were very methodical, and always evolved a system for themselves so we invited them to our conferences and consulted them about problems of administration and packing.
ATS Sgt. Peggy Alford, of Gunnislake, with a staff of sixty auxiliaries and thirty men ran a twenty-four hour issuing service. They calculated the number of lorries required for each consignment and worked out timetables so that the collections could go on right through the night, One ATS corporal was nicknamed “Welfare Corporal because her job was to arrange the feeding and accommodation for drivers, at all times of the day and night.
The system never failed – even when convoys of 100 vehicles were involved.
A 24-years-old technical Officer was responsible for the stocktaking of the entire depot – and checking stocks of ‘lines’ a month. The Liaison Officer organised volunteer wading parties to help the regular depot staff. Everyone off duty in the evenings – ATS officers and administrative staff – all went down to the sheds and lent a hand. Their real reward was the news of the invasion – made possible by tank landings.
The work of the Depot was also commemorated in verse, and the ATS are proud of their mention:
“A.T.S., too, were there; Doing more than their share; – Scarce time to do their hair.”
Sergeant Peggy Alford, Maple Hayes, Gunnislake, aged 22, joined the ATS in July 1941, when she left school. Was pay clerk, then in Ordnance. Has been sergeant for eighteen months. She was in charge of label library, did packing in waterproofed paper for overseas identification, and checked component parts of kit before going from Depot. In the Depot was I./C. Control Office. Her brother is a sergeant in the R.A.F.