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Interview of Betty Harvey, 19th August 2001

Interviewed by John and Irene Jenkins

Betty worked at Austers because she was married on D-day and her husband, Martin, could not get a job in London. They moved to Rearsby for a while. Her mother-in-law bought 7 cottages so Betty and her husband could have one of them. She thought it was the back of beyond and felt very isolated as she had lived in London and been in the WRAF.

When her daughter, Pat, was 5 she decided she would like to get a job, and Alf Harman gave her an interview. Alf Harman made the interview fun and he gave her a job in the Spares and Service Department. Eric Hall and Ambrose Hitchman were there. It was a lovely department to work in. Betty worked in a shed as there was no room in the department. She worked with Joyce Stanton who still keeps in touch with her. She worked until 3 pm every day. Betty was asked if she would take the job as Secretary to the Managing Director when her daughter was a bit older, so she gave it a try and worked for Frank Bates.

Betty did not like Frank Bates. He was a very difficult man to work for. The tea used to be brought down by a lady from the canteen and every day the telephone would ring near to Ronald Porteous, and Betty would have to go and take dictation. She got fed up with this and told him she would go in for dictation when she had drunk her tea. Someone put her up to this, and she rose to the challenge. He was OK after that. Then he started putting silly things in his out tray, pens, paper clips, rubbish, then one day he put an empty wallet in the tray and a writing pad, some envelopes and a folded handkerchief. Betty did not take them and he called her in and asked her why she hadn't actioned them. So Betty took them and put them in the filing cabinet and that was the end of that. Betty got fed up with him as he called her in for dictation, and then called managers in to give them a dressing down in front of her. One time she went to get up, he asked her 'where was she going?', and she told him it wasn't her place to stay. He told her to stay until he told her to go, so she went out and didn't stay. Betty then decided she was going to leave. When asked why she went out, she told him she didn't like it as he was telling the managers off. Frank was astonished when she told him she was leaving and couldn't believe she would leave him. She ultimately stayed and was OK after that.

After that, she worked with Ambrose and then worked for Fred Law and six others. She worked for Alf Harman for a time and thought he was a nice man. She met a lot of interesting people, including Jimmy Edwards as he had his own Auster. with the registration G-AMMS. She also met Douglas Bader several times. Hughie Green came up once a long time ago. The Ruler of The Sudan came to the factory but caused a problem as he wanted a red mat to go to the Gents toilet to say his prayers. Nothing could be found but Alfie had the Financial Times, so he went to the Gents, knelt down and said his prayers. Betty remembered Ronald Porteous and loved to hear him sing as they used to have big parties in the experimental hanger. Everyone went to the parties and they were great fun. She remembered Wally Warpole Elsie Palmer his girlfriend they were a good pair.

Tom Simmons and Jerry Garner, together with Ronnie Garner. Tom Simmons had the red telephone so he would answer the call if there was a warning. Tom was one of Mr Pickett's men.

Several Frenchmen came over in four Austers, landed very quickly and spent a penny on the tarmac in full view of everyone! In the early 1950's there was a flying club at Austers. Betty belonged to the Club and still has her blue badge. Betty had her first flight in a Glider as the Leicestershire Gliding Club used to meet at Austers. She was fascinated with the glider and enjoyed it immensely. Betty frequently flew in the Austers with Ranald Porteous and did looping the loop in the clouds with him. Ranald was a good pilot.

Betty liked the Air Shows that Auster had at Rearsby. Ivor Vaughan owned the land and had 7 Rolls Royce’s, he went for everything in a big way. Betty liked Ivor. He swore like a trouper but was straight talking and liked it if you talked straight to him.

Betty also went to the Farnborough office where the air crash investigations took place. She found that very interesting.

Betty flew in the 206 aircraft and had a photograph taken for a publicity magazine. She flew down to Shoreham with Trevor Howard and took some notes for a meeting.

Betty stayed in touch with Peter Maysfield, and he wrote a letter when he retired. Margaret Lawrence was his secretary.

Betty stayed on even after she should have retired. When she left in 1970 they had a big party for her. Betty finally retired in 1980 after working for the automotive side of the business for 10 years. She said that she loved working there, she would have done anything for the company and she loved her job. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of characters working for Austers. Martin, Betty's husband, worked at Austers and he also enjoyed his work.

All of these transcripts are available in a single file in several formats.


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