Alfred Lister and Mabel Twiddy Cardington 1942.


I was delighted to hear from Wendy Rest who has not one but three great Cardington connections. Her father Alfred William Lister was at the camp in 1942 and her mother was also there serving as a WAAF balloon operator. It also transpires that Alfred’s cousin was married to Hugh Oswald Short. (Hugh Oswald Short and his brother Eustace came to Bedford in 1915 to establish a site to build airships for use in WW1 – their site later became RAF Cardington). Wow! Thank you so much Wendy for getting in touch.

Wendy writes:

"I saw and read your website with much interest. My deceased father was there in C Flight and I have a photo of him with his companions 412 Squadron July 8th 1942, (shown left). His name was Alfred William Lister, I think I remember him saying he was referred to as Bill!

C Flight July 8 1942. Alfred William Lister - 3rd right middle row with glasses


Dad was listed as LAC and his trade was an armourer. He went on to see service in India and Burma and was mentioned in despatches twice for which he had 2 oak leaf emblems, also a citation RAFVR published in the London Gazette 1/1/1946, signed  by Harold Macmillan secretary for air then. My mother was also at Cardington as a balloon operator, and was there at the same time as my father. Cardington also figures in my family history. My father’s cousin was married to Hugh Oswald Short.

I have photos of both mum and dad in uniform – my mum Mabel Elsie Twiddy* was a WAAF and joined up in 1941 and told me she was a balloon operator. Both of them were at Cardington as a distant cousin of mine said mum was dad’s driver as they used to come in uniform to spend free time with her relatives in Bletchley which is not far away. This figures as mums aunt had a smallholding with a cow, pigs and hens and also gave them a good meal. She made all her butter and cheese, I really must get service records for my parents from the RAF as another project.

I know dad did his square bashing at Blackpool before being shipped out on convoy to India and Burma. This was the parting of the waves for a few years as dad came out of the air force when he returned to England, while mum stayed in, I think until 1947/8 when she was at West Raynham, Norfolk. Mum by then has 2 stripes on her uniform and was considering going on to be sergeant but dad then resurfaced. They met again but did not marry until 1949 and I followed on in the 1950s.

With regard to the Shorts part of the family, Hugh Oswald Short was married to my father’s cousin and I am sure dad would have been well aware of the connection, they married in 1935. I have just another thought - dad went into the RAF wanting to fly and be a pilot presumably because of the shortage of them as their life expectancy was not long. Dad always wore glasses for close work, but did not wear them for medicals, he went in front of 8 doctors he said to be able to fly and passed A1, at the final medical apparently he wore the glasses so that was the end of that, he always said the doctor was stunned he had got so far, he then became an armourer and loaded 500lb and 1,000lb bombs into the planes working mainly on Spitfires and Hurricanes, but I think that was mostly in Burma. I do know that he was at an RAF camp in Lincs not far from Kings Lynn when Douglas Bader arrived and inspected them.

Dads medals:

1939-1945 Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, Two Oak Leaf Emblems mentioned in despatches twice.  "

(* I have also put Mabels photos and story on the WAAF Balloon Unit page of this website - Jane)

Thank you Wendy for sharing your family history - Jane.

Website compiled by Jane Harvey. February 2022.