Female WW2 Spy Who Kept Her Wartime Work Secret For Fifty Years Is Honored At Last

Signallers of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service at work. <a href=https://www.flickr.com/photos/lac-bac/4679192128>Photo Credit</a>
Signallers of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service at work. Photo Credit

Wives do not always tell their husbands everything.

In the case of Becky White she had a good reason not to.  She had been a spy during the Second World War, eavesdropping on radio transmissions from U-Boats, and using the signals to determine their locations in the North Atlantic where they preyed on Allied shipping.

She was prohibited for 50 years from disclosing her work in Signals Intelligence from 1943 to 1945.  But she was recently recognized for her work.  A representative of the British High Commission recently presented her with the Bletchley Park Commemorative Badge for her service during a ceremony with her family in attendance, including husband Arthur, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

White was in the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) primarily at Number 1 Station HMCS Baytown, later known as HMCS Gloucester, south of Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

She worked on the base that came with parade grounds and a ship’s mast.  In the middle of cow pasture stood the ‘DF Shack’ (the Radio Direction Finding structure).

That did not bother her.  She was not afraid of cows, White said, with a little giggle.

The commemorative badge was started seven years ago for Signals Intelligence veterans from World War II.  Until that time, there had not been any acknowledgment of their roles, because of the need to maintain confidentiality. A small monument still stands on Regional Road 9 in Gloucester, the location of the military base, Canoe.com reported. The stone monument says what happened at that location, she said.

White’s family never knew or suspected her secret.  Her son, Steve White said his mother’s occupation was held secret for numerous years. She had a fabricated tale and could not say a word for a half-century, not even to her spouse, he said.

Nobody knew what she did.  But she thinks the job was done well, she said. She still maintains contact with some women she worked with so many decades in the past. Like the rest of her family, her husband Arthur takes pride in her contribution to the war effort. He thinks it was spectacular.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE