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Win Murfitt - a Tribute
Sadly we have to announce that our friend Win has passed away peacefully in her sleep. Win Murfitt, or Winnie McCabe as she was called during the war, has been a wonderful source of help and information about the war years in and around Sarsden. It has been a real privilege to know her in the latter part of her life and to be able to chat on the phone and, on one occasion, to meet with her in her little sheltered bungalow in Littleport near Ely.
I do regret that Win never received the official thanks and recognition she deserved for her war work.
Although I took my findings about the bouncing bomb to the RAF Museum in Hendon and showed them some wartime footage of Win and other ladies at work at their lathes during the war, at the time the Museum didn't have the staffing levels to permit following this up. I was reluctant to pursue it further as I knew Win wouldn't have welcomed a lot of fuss.
Sadly she grew frail and became a little confused as her memory gradually failed her. Her short term memory seemed to become affected a while after I first met her but her memories of the war years stayed with her. Her stories fascinated me. There was the time she and her friends rode through Chipping Norton in a Sherman tank with some Americans stationed nearby, and another occasion when she watched Miles (later General) Dempsey's staff car, with pennant flying, drive past her in Sarsden. She retained an active curiosity and wanted to know how the rear gunner on a Lancaster bomber would escape in the event of the aircraft being shot down. She recalled an evening spent in a pub with a bomber crew who thought the world of their rear gunner. It was encounters like this that saddened her at the terrific loss of life among the aircrews on the Dams Raid.
Through Win's kindness and generosity and her longstanding friendship with a wartime girlfriend and fellow munitions worker we obtained additional photos of some of the American 6th Armored Division soldiers in Sarsden and other mementoes. Along with these came the stories about her and her friend standing up to their estate landlord who wanted them to move from their tied house to a leaky building in the middle of nowhere after her father, his employee, died due to overwork.
She spoke of her father's burial in the local graveyard because the ground was frozen solid in the Catholic graveyard in Chipping Norton. And she recalled going to London to take part in the VJ Day celebrations.
In America, Win's generation is known as "The Greatest Generation". I believe it is also true of the same generation in this country. And Win was a remarkable member of it.
Win Murfitt - died July 2012
You can read Win's own account of her war years here:
(The reference to Patton's 6th Army should be to the 6th Armored Division, later of Patton's 3rd Army)