Hilda Appleby (5 June 1902 – unknown) was living in Fulford at the beginning of the Second World War. While walking her dog, she met someone who suggested she volunteer for the WVS. She did – and so began her work in the canteen on Platform 8 of York station. She worked nights, from midnight to 8.00am, providing food and drink to troop trains, prisoners of war and Red Cross trains with stretcher cases. She was also a trained ARP warden though not on duty the night of York’s worst air raid in April 1942.
Part of Hilda’s WVS work was escorting displaced persons – involving traveling to Cambridge by train, collecting 50 – 60 people and bringing them back to York for transport to Sutton – on – Derwent transit camp. After a week or two there, she would escort them to work places. Her escort duties also involved travel to Germany.
Hilda’s story is one of many that illustrate the impact of war on individuals and their incalculable contribution to the war effort.
2004; “Women at War: Hilda’s story” York Press; 17 November 2004; accessed 14 August 2020.
Hilda Appleby’s private papers are lodged with the Imperial War Museum.
By Rosie Cantrell