Britain’s wartime switchboard operators were given light therapy as commanders feared they were missing out on Vitamin D while working underground, a D-Day hero has revealed.
Military staff in underground headquarters had to work for so long without access to natural light that they had mandatory sunlamp treatment.
The women had to strip to the waist and wear specially designed goggles to protect their eyes from the radiation during their sessions.
Marie Scott, 92, worked as a switchboard operator at Southwick Park, the underground headquarters based in the cliffs outside Portsmouth from where the D-Day landings were monitored.
Aged 17 she worked eight-hour watches over a day-long duty. She and her colleagues were able to rest on three-tier bunks in small, cramped rooms with no natural light.
The conditions were “not terribly pleasant,” she told the Telegraph. “There were no oranges, or fruit juice – we didn’t have that during the war.”
The air in the underground tunnels was pretty fetid. “Doctors say ‘oh, you’ve got 1920s lungs’, but here we are, still here” she jokes.
After a few months underground with only occasional respite in the open air, her military commanders decided the wireless operators, plotters, planners and telegraphists were suffering from Vitamin D deficiency.