Family remembers former flight lieutenant from Harpenden who held important role in WWII

PUBLISHED: 16:34 30 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:38 30 July 2018

Joy Douglas. Picture: Ian Douglas

Joy Douglas. Picture: Ian Douglas


A former flight lieutenant who was a meteorological observer during the Second World War has died at the age of 94.

Joy Douglas, who was educated in Harpenden and spent some of her adult life there, provided British forces with vital help in the Second World War through her work at the met office.

Born Joyce Carol West in London on February 8, 1924, Joy was educated at St George’s Grammar School in Harpenden and St Cyprian’s School in Capetown, South Africa. Her parents were Col Reg West and Harpenden councillor Carol West, who lived at various addresses in the town.

She was one of the last surviving met office observers credited with providing Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris with the weather forecast for the first 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne on May 1, 1942.

Joy’s meteorological section assessed the weather conditions between home and their targets, and she personally handed the weather report to ‘Bomber’ Harris. Due to his attendance at the station the building had been cleaned, and Joy slipped on the polished floors and handed him the report while lying on the floor.

In 1944, Joy’s section provided essential information for the forces at the D-Day landings, and it was on her advice that D-Day was delayed by two days due to adverse weather in the Channel.

She served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force’s meteorological branch from 1941 to 1945, and later joined the Women’s Royal Air Force with a commission in the secretarial branch, eventually leading the cipher unit at Middle East Command.

Joy married the late squadron leader Jimmie Douglas and left the service to start a family in 1954. Jimmie retired in 1964, but the family continued their work with the armed forces with their son Flight Lieutenant Ian Douglas also serving as an air traffic controller and operations officer from 1985 to 2006.

Joy and Jimmie retired to Cornwall and founded a holiday site, and when Jimmie died in 1974 Joy returned to Harpenden to be with her mother. She eventually moved to the West Midlands to be close to her family, and is survived by her three children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Her funeral was held on Tuesday, July 24 in the West Midlands, with the RAF in attendance to pay their respects.

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