Patricia Johnston’s idyllic childhood in Rangoon came to an abrupt end on the 7th of December 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbour. In early 1942 with the Japanese invasion getting ever closer she was flown out with her siblings and arrived in India, without her parents.
After settling her two brothers in boarding school Patricia’s war really began. She realised after completing her training that nursing wasn’t for her and transferred to the recently formed Women's Auxiliary Corps. Following a first posting in a Camouflage School and receiving a commission, her link to Bletchley Park began when she joined an SLU Unit as an Intelligence Officer.
Based at military command posts around the world Special Liaison Units received Ultra reports via secure links run by Special Communication Units. They then passed this intelligence directly on to the commanders in the field to ensure the Ultra secret was protected.
Oral History Volunteer Mike Chapman joins Pat to travel back 75 years to map out not only Pat’s wartime service but also that of her husband and fellow Bletchley Park Veteran, Bill Sanglier.
We hear of her embarrassment of paying school fees with damp money, the Japanese pilot she said a prayer for, how an infamous Cold War Russian spy was taught to cook curry by Pat’s mother and how working in Military Intelligence could at times feel like living in cloud cuckoo land.
Image, courtesy of Mrs Patricia Johnston.
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