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Author of wartime novel searching for Leighton’s Eileen

Elinor Florence, left, and Eileen Scott on the terrace at Danesfield House, 1999

Elinor Florence, left, and Eileen Scott on the terrace at Danesfield House, 1999

A Canadian author is searching for a past or current resident of Leighton Buzzard named Eileen Scott who provided key background information for her wartime novel.

Elinor Florence of Invermere, British Columbia was researching her book in 1999 when she visited Danesfield House near Marlow-on-Thames, the former RAF Medmenham.

Now a luxury hotel, the building served as the headquarters for aerial photographic interpretation during the war.

While Mrs Florence and her husband were walking around the grounds, talking about the hotel’s illustrious history, Eileen Scott approached them. She, too, had been walking in the gardens and had overheard their discussion.

Mrs Scott informed them that she was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force who was stationed at RAF Medmenham during the war. Although she lived just 30 miles away, Mrs Scott had never returned for a visit since the war ended 54 years earlier – until that very day.

“Of course, I was thrilled,” Mrs Florence said. “It seemed such a fateful meeting.

“We had lunch together in the hotel restaurant, and she described her wartime experiences. She gave me many useful tidbits of information that I included in my manuscript.

“For example, she told me that the women on the station had a secret cat named Wisteria. It was against orders to keep a pet, but Wisteria used to climb the wisteria vines that grew up the sides of the building, and sneak into their rooms at night. That’s the sort of detail you will never find in a history book!”

In 1999 Mrs Scott was a widow living in Stoke Road in Leighton Buzzard. The two women corresponded for a time, but then lost touch.

According to Mrs Florence: “My manuscript was rejected by a couple of publishers, so I lost heart and put it away in a shoebox. Last winter I brought it out again and made one last attempt – and to my delight, it was accepted by a very well-known Canadian publisher, Dundurn Press in Toronto.

“I immediately thought of Mrs Scott and wanted to share my good fortune with her, but I don’t know whether she is still with us, or where she is living now.”

If anyone has information about Mrs Scott’s whereabouts, or whether she has family in the area, contact the LBO on 01582 798510.

Bird’s Eye View, by Elinor Florence, is about a young Canadian woman who joins the British WAAFs and becomes an interpreter of aerial photographs at RAF Medmenham. It’s out on October 25, 2014.Pre-order via Amazon.

 

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