The Secret WW2 Learning Network is an educational charity registered in the UK - a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) No. 1156796

When war broke out Ruth was 17 and living with her mother and two younger brothers in Farnborough. Her father, Captain Thomas Keble, was a regular army officer who served with the Buffs (East Kent Regiment) and worked in intelligence. He died in 1934 whilst a staff officer in the Punjab. Ruth last saw him when she was ten and his death had a profound impact on her.

Ruth set herself the objective of reaching his rank and to also work in intelligence. Too young to join-up, she undertook a six month secretarial course and after basic training with the ATS she found herself on the General Staff (Intelligence) of Aldershot Command, working alongside the territorial ATS clerical staff who were all experienced PAs to London dignitaries and businessmen. This group merged with Eastern Command in February 1941 under General Montgomery as South East Command, tasked with the defence of the coast from invasion from a splendid private house in Reigate. As an NCO she was the only person not an officer allowed in the inner sanctum of intelligence gathering on German invasion plans, which excitingly later turned towards the potential to invade France.

Told she would have to secure her commission to be allowed on the air photo-recognition course like the others, Ruth put forward her name and was trained at Windsor, concluding in December 1942, upon which she was expected to return to Monty’s team. However, her heart sank with her orders to proceed to the experimental artillery station at Shoeburyness, Essex.

Here she spent a frustrating year, desperate to return to her beloved Intelligence work. In December 1943, having answered a rather vague-sounding call for special work, Ruth found herself attending an interview for an organisation she did not know the name of – the Special Operations Executive.

For the rest of Ruth’s story, kindly submitted by her son PaddyWillis, a Friend of SECRET WW2, please see here.