“Our mother was Virginia “Ginny” Quaife, the Red Cross Director, assigned to Dunkeswell Navy Base during the last years of the war. She, like many women, wanted to serve her country in any way she could and became an Army hostess at Fort Crook, Nebraska before joining the Red Cross for a tour overseas.
Virginia was assigned to Dunkeswell sometime in 1944 through 1945. According to an excerpt from the local hometown newspaper, one of her fondest projects was furnishing hot coffee and doughnuts to weary crews coming “home” from their missions. Other duties included providing recreational activities and support services for personnel stationed at the base.
After VE Day, she was briefly assigned to Germany, before closing out her Red Cross career in the Philippines.
There are a great many pictures that we have included here. All of these pictures and clippings are taken from her many scrapbooks that she assembled while overseas.
Also much of our knowledge of Dunkeswell is based on our mother’s recollections and stories that we have heard so many times while growing up. Some of the individuals shown in the photos are known and so identified. Many are not.
We hope that any of the gallant men and women who served here or the children of those who have passed on, would make it known to the site if they recognize any of these people and can provide their names or any anecdotal information about them.
As we looked at and assembled these photos for this project, we could not but feel humbled and saddened that, if it were not for this web site and others like it, the exploits of the men and women who served during the war in theatres and campaigns all over the world, would be lost to future generations forever.
We look upon this particular project as a legacy to our mother and the fine men and women who served with her at Dunkeswell. Sadly, our mother passed away in 1991. Many of the men and women who would have enjoyed seeing pictures of their fellow comrades during this time are gone as well.As you and I view these pictures, I know they are smiling at the pictures too.
The first groups of pictures 2-15 are of the men and women who staffed and ran the Fleet Aero Club at tehe base and some American Red Cross friends. Pictures 2 and 3 are of our mother, Virginia ‘Ginny’ Quaife. Picture 4 is of the English staff that helped run the club. There are too many to name on the photo but luckily our mother wrote some of their names on the back. They appear to be in no particular order: Bessie, Muriel, Wynne, Mrs Pike, Mrs Holbert and Mrs Firzey.
The young woman down on the front row and on the right with another woman’s arm around her waist is Peggy King. We were contacted by her granddaughter after she saw the picture on another site and wrote us to identify her grandmother, Peggy King. Lillian, another English staffer, seemed to be a close friend of Virginia and is shown in several more photos both alone and with someone who perhaps was her boyfriend?”
Welcome to this collection of Photographs kindly sent to the Trust by Jennifer Bell and Mark Cox from the United States.
Jennifer and Mark’s Mother was a lady called Virginia Quaife, or “Ginny” to those who knew her.
Ginny was the director, or person in charge, of the Red Cross club at Dunkeswell and ran the Aero Club for the Airman from 1944 to 1945 after which she went to Germany and the Philippines.
Ginny was at Dunkeswell for about a year and together with other Red Cross personnel, most of whom were female, was responsible for creating a lot of the leisure activities on the base to help the men relax and to maintain morale.
Fortunately for us Ginny took a lot photographs; reproduced here, which provide a fascinating window in time, particularly if you also study the background to a subject. As it show life exactly as is it was.
The other thing which is really fascinating is that people seemed to be a lot smaller then they are today, primarily due to nutrition
Before viewing the collection, please read the message from her daughter Jennifer Bell and her son, Marvin Cox :