Betty Burleigh

  WAAF at RAF Silloth


Betty Burleigh joined the WAAF in 1942 and was stationed at the Silloth Airfield RAF Camp from 12th April 1945 to 19th October 1945 as a Corporal in charge of the WAAF personnel, who were billeted at the time in The Solway Hotel. She worked in the RAF HQ Office on the Airfield, mainly controlling  the movement of vehicles entering and leaving the Airfield. Betty was demobbed in late 1945.

Airfield Control Tower

 Betty later worked as a civilian Radio Telephonist in The Silloth Airfield Control Tower from 1955 to 1960. There were three shifts, 6am – 2pm, 2pm – 10pm and 10pm – 6am, which were rotated between ten Radio telephonists. They were supervised by Flight Lieutenant Cybulski from the Polish Air Force, who worked days. Betty’s duties were to take messages from pilots to pass onto the Flight Lieutenant, log aircraft in and out and give instructions to aircraft to land and take off. 

One memory of the day was when Cliff Richard landed at the Airfield in 1959. Word quickly got around that he was in the Officers Mess waiting for his aircraft to be refuelled. One of the Airfield Control Tower girls phoned to speak to him and to prove it was him he sang a line over the phone from his hit song of the day Living Doll. The girl then asked the Flight Lieutenant if she could meet him. The Flight lieutenant obtained permission and she was allowed to see him. Betty was on duty at the time and can remember how excited her colleague was when she returned to the Control Tower. Not sure where Cliff’s destination was, but someone might remember. Betty is now 94 (September 2015).

Betty Burleigh (Airfield Control Tower) Photos

Betty Burleigh in the Operations Room of the Airfield Control Tower 1950’s.
Betty Burleigh and her colleague Margaret Bilton on the roof of the Airfield Control Tower 1950’s.
22 Maintenance Unit / RAF Badge presented to Betty Burleigh.
The Fire Crew taken in 1953 in front of the Control Tower.
The Control Tower taken in 1982 before it was demolished.
The Control Tower taken in 1982 before it was demolished.

Betty and Arthur Burleigh’s house in Silloth 3, Hylton Terrace was bought by Lawrence and Mary Marshall in May 1962.  Betty’s husband, Arthur, passed away in December 2007 aged 96.


The above information is from Arthur and Betty Burleigh’s archives. Many thanks to their son, Ken Burleigh, for sending.

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