WAAF Who Stared into Hitler’s Eyes, Dies
Former WAAF Patricia Clark, a Battle of Britain filter room plotter, who became a bestselling novelist, has died aged 95.
Born Patricia Robins on February 1, 1921, she was the second of three daughter of novelist Denise Robins, known as ‘the Queen of Romance’. After going to school in Switzerland, where she learned French and how to ski, Patricia wanted to learn German and was sent, aged 16, in 1937 to study near Munich. She once found herself in a traffic jam a few feet away from Hitler who was in an open topped car. Nearly 80 years later she vividly remembered ‘meeting Hitler’s cold blue eyes.’
Returning to England she found a job on Women’s Illustrated magazine as a junior editor. As war loomed, she joined the RAF and after basic training was assigned to special duties, in the Filter Centre at 10 (Fighter) Group. Her job as a filterer was important, skilled work. The Filter Centre was a high pressure environment that demanded a great degree of skill and dexterity and close team cooperation.
Patricia proved to be a highly capable operator who was commissioned and made a Filterer. The Filterer’s job was to analyse the huge amount of conflicting information to decide on the most accurate position, vector, height and strength of detected aircraft in a very short time. She was further promoted to Filter Officer, acting as deputy to the Filter Centre Controller and with overall responsibility for all the filtered information which produced the recognised air picture.
In 1944 Britain was the first nation ever attacked by ballistic missiles and Patricia took part in the pioneering work designed to locate the firing positions of V2 rockets so they could be attacked from the air. Her work was highly classified and she was sworn to secrecy about it for 30 years after the war ended. During breaks for bad weather in this top-secret war work, Patricia started writing romance stories for magazines, using the extra income she made from them as petrol money to get to NAAFI dances.
In1947, she met and married former RAF pilot Donald Clark. They divorced in 1976. Her writing career began in earnest after the war and, like her mother; Patricia became a prolific author of light romantic fiction. In the 1970s she started to write blockbuster historical romances using the pen name Claire Lorrimer. In later years she moved to new genres, including murder mysteries. In March last year, under her pen name, she was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award by the Romantic Novelists’ Association, after completing her 80th novel.
She is survived by her three children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Source: RAF (Crown Copyright, OGL)