Westbrook woman writes story based on her mother’s Manston romance

Congratulations to Jill Hogben on the publication of her book based on her mother’s Manston romance.

It just goes to show that there are many different ways supporters can continue to show their support for Manston and the campaign. Everyone’s positive contributions help keep Manston in everyone’s thoughts and no matter how large or small you may think they are, they are all greatly appreciated.



Article in full:

“A WESTBROOK woman has written a love affair novel based on her mother’s romance with an RAF non-commissioned officer (NCO) at Manston.

Jill Hogben’s mum Betty often talked about her friend at Manston, but it was only after Betty died in 2012 that Jill realised how strong the love between the pair had been.

Betty was a clerk in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and Harry was a flight sergeant based at Manston.

Mrs Hogben, 67, who grew up in Thanet and returned to the isle from Cornwall in 2014, said: “My mother often talked of her friend at Manston when she visited us in the 1980s and her recollections were brought to mind.

“I had no idea how strong the love was between these two people, and how difficult it must have been for her to return to Thanet.

“My mother died in 2012 and while going through her papers I found his [Harry’s] love letters to her and her love poems for him. I was so moved by these letters, which are now in the book, that I decided to write about their story.”

Mum-of-four Mrs Hogben has also written two church history books, raising money separately for a Devon church and a Cornish church. She is currently writing the history of St Peter-in-Thanet church.

The book begins in Sydenham, South London, where Betty lived. She was conscripted when she was 22 and posted to RAF Manston in 1944, where the friendship which would turn into a love affair began.

Mrs Hogben found it too emotional to write the story using the pair’s real names, so in the book she has called them Sarah and Gary.

She said: “I found it extremely difficult to write about my mother using her real name, it was very emotional, the sad story and the fact she was not long deceased. So I used her grandmother’s name in the book, Sarah Langman.

“I also changed the name of the flight sergeant to Gary Scrivens.”

The name of the book, Our Days Are Numbered, alludes to the love affair but also to the young pilots flying out of RAF Manston, risking their lives for their country.

Mrs Hogben said: “It is very similar to that brilliant film Brief Encounter, in that it is a story of unrequited love which makes it sad and poignant.

“My aim is to get it made into a film, as with the background music of Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 running through it (one of their favourite pieces) there would not be a dry eye in the house!”

The book is available to buy for £7.50 at Quex Barn, Strawberry Fields café in Birchington Square, Manston’s Jolly Farmer pub, the RAF Museum and the Spitfire Museum.  If the book is sold out it can be reordered at any of the aforementioned outlets.”