Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 14°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Orford: Exhibition tells of driving ace who played key war effort role

13:15 30 July 2014

Constance Robson, the 'girl who would drive to hell backwards', working on a vehicle while her male colleagues watch

Constance Robson, the 'girl who would drive to hell backwards', working on a vehicle while her male colleagues watch

Archant

The tale of a home front heroine dubbed ‘the girl who would drive to hell backwards’ will be among the stories told as part of a village’s First World War commemorations.

Constance Robson was a teenager when war broke out in July 1914 but would build a reputation in Orford as a skilled mechanic and gutsy driver.

She worked at a vehicle depot - now Friends Garage in Front Street - repairing vehicles and winning acclaim for her motoring skills.

According to organisers of a three-day exhibition marking 100 years since the beginning of the war, Constance had driven her father, a doctor, on his rounds when she was just 16. She went on to fill one of the vacancies left by the men who had been called up, driving a taxi in Newcastle, where she honed her skills and eventually joined the Women’s Royal Air Force as a driver.

Posted to Orford, she worked as a driver and mechanic, and may have also driven at Orford Ness, a large part of which was acquired by the War Department for airfields.

Jennifer Hall, curator at Orford Museum, said: “She drove all types of vehicle, including ambulances and heavy lorries, and because of her skills was known as ‘the girl who would drive to hell backwards’.

“When the Royal Flying Corps merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to become the Royal Air Force, the need for a separate women’s air service led to the formation of the Women’s Royal Air Force. These women became known as the most professional and disciplined of all of the women’s services.”

The exhibition at Orford Town Hall will feature accounts of people living or based in the area, including a Royal Flying Corps’ captain who signalled his return from battle by lighting a flare which accidentally set light to a shed on top of the castle.

The exhibition, from September 12-14, is part of a community project which has received financial backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Local schools are being encouraged to get involved by finding historical facts in primary resources and sharing the results of their own work through art, literature and drama.

Maggie Livingstone, who is leading the educational side of the project, wants local youngsters to draw comparisons between their own lives and those of children during the war.

Saxmundham Free School recently visited Suffolk Record Office, where pupils found clues about life in the village during wartime.

Merlyn Mitchell Cotts, who joined the pupils on the visit, said: “They all had a wonderful time and were fascinated to read about a zeppelin being spotted above the primary school.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

The Willis Building.

World-renowned architects are in the shortlist to design the Upper Orwell Crossing in Ipswich, it has been revealed.

An East of England Ambulance.

Investigations are under way after a man died at a go-karting race circuit.

The Pigs Gone Wild auction at Trinity Park - Mark Westley Photography

For 10 weeks this summer they were part of the furniture in Ipswich town centre, greeting commuters as they arrived at the station, making shoppers smile as they walked around town and bringing out the inner child in us all.

Woman admits stealing from employer

An accounts worker who stole thousands of pounds from an Ipswich building company over two years has been warned she could be given an immediate prison sentence.

Teenage Cancer Trust visits St Pancras School to give assembley and collect more than £2,300 after a sponsored mini-marathon

Sponsored laps of the playground saw pupils at St Pancras Primary in Ipswich raise more than £2,300 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The Made in Dagenham cast with Eileen Pullen and Gwen Davis. Photo: Mark Sepple

It’s been nearly 50 years since women workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant went on strike for equal rights, writes Wayne Savage, who met two of them as a new production of Made In Dagenham comes to the New Wolsey.

Geoffrey Munn with his dogs

Jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn has been a familiar face for many years on television screens as an Antiques Roadshow valuer.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24