Jo - Life as a Military Wife

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Life as a Military Wife

Jo Life as a Military Wife By Gweniver Exton

This project portrays the thoughts, feelings and emotions of Jo and her life as a military wife. Her husband, John, and his role in the Royal Air Force has been the reason behind the migration of Jo and her family across the UK and Europe since her marriage in 1991. The focus of the book is on Jo and the journeys that she has made with her John and her family. John remains both absent and present as his presence is implied through his clothing and artefacts but Jo’s journeys and memories are in this instance foregrounded. Whilst family archive photographs depict the places they have lived, my own photographs portrays Jo where they currently live in the Cotswolds.

Lossiemouth (1991-1993) 1991 - Married RAF Flying Officer “I was so excited to be newly married and moving up to Scotland away from where I’d grown up in Lincolnshire but boy was that time hard, adjusting to having no family or friends to talk to or visit made the initial few months of married life very scary. It wasn’t too long before I found my feet and suddenly became interested in walking mountains and climbing sea stacks”

Prestwick (1993-1996) “One of our best postings, where our beautiful daughters were born. May 21st 1994 - Abigail Elizabeth Grace July 21st 1996 - Olivia Ellen Ann We lived on a beautiful farm called Enterkine�

Cranwell (1996-1999) “Our closest posting to our hometown, lots of visits back home. We managed to see our families a little more regularly here, I was travelling back regularly with two babies. Abigail started pre-school and then school.�

Bruggen, Germany (1999-2001) “What a posting!! We spent almost three years visiting Europe during holidays. Abigail went to Bader school and Olivia would come everywhere with me on the back of my Dutch bike. Evenings were full of parties and fun and the British base was a home from home. Best posting ever. RAF Bruggen closed in 2001. On leaving Bruggen John and I were extremely worried about house prices in the UK and how they had spiralled, knowing we hadn’t even thought of home ownership. Our biggest worry was being posted to Brize Norton as neither of us wanted to live by such a huge station.”

Brize Norton (2001-2015) “How wrong our misconceptions were. We loved Oxfordshire. As soon as we arrived at Brize, John was posted away to the Faulklands, I found that difficult as getting to know new folk isn’t always easy. Luckily a neighbour had also only just moved in and she was married to an American pilot who was away a lot so we became close friends. Elizabeth Hedger is to this day my best friend. We still communicate daily and see each other as often as we can even though she has moved from Brize to Germany, Germany to Texas, and Texas to Virginia. John and I decided to buy a new house in Carterton, close to the camp - funnily enough we did this as he went off to Afghanistan because we wanted stability for our girls and they were happy in school. We ended up staying in that new house for eleven years.”

Cheltenham (2015) “Then we made our first really selfish move. We had spent years at Brize even though John had been posted away from there after his tour in Afghanistan. We lived apart for a total of 7 years on and off in order for our daughters to continue schooling at Burford. When our youngest went off to uni and our eldest was already at uni we decided to sell and look for a Cotswold Cottage in a quiet village... and we found one.�

© Gweniver Exton 2017

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