A history of SSAFA in the Second World War
SSAFA's support for serving personnel, veterans and their families during the Second World War was invaluable to the war effort.
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From finding accommodation for families visiting wounded relatives to advice about debt or housing, find out how we were there for the Armed Forces family in the Second World War.
SSAFA's Pat Tonks remembers
When Pat Tonks started working at SSAFA's Head Office in 1924 she was our youngest member of staff. Fifteen years later at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Pat had become an essential member of our central team. She soon began to receive hundreds of letters from Forces families worried about what war would mean for them.
Pat remembers, 'One day was normal; the next five years altogether abnormal'. Pat soon took charge of the Head Office Case Department where she worked with three assistants, including the wife of the Director of Welfare at the War Office, eight shorthand typists, plus voluntary helpers to handle an average of 200 cases a day. Pat's practical response to the demand for SSAFA's help was: 'I'll do what I can, shall I?'.
After the end of the war, SSAFA continued to provide essential services to the military community. In 1953 when a truce in Korea was imminent, the War Office requested an experienced caseworker to meet the British prisoners. Pat Tonks took on the case and flew to Japan with up-to-date news from home for each man. Pat flew to Japan in person carrying photographs and news from home, which had been collected in just two days by SSAFA volunteers around the country.