Today on the blog, Kate Werran is going to introduce us to Miss Joyce Packe. Read on to discover what a remarkable life she had!

An American Uprising in Second World War England is available to preorder now. 

Meet the redoubtable Miss Joyce Packe – known in Torbay, Devon, for her work as historian, no-nonsense tour guide and general pillar of the community. Less known is the fact that nearly 80 years ago Miss Packe, pictured here courtesy of Herald Express, was plucked from the cream of British secretaries to become one of only six US Army court reporters in the land. By creating official US Army records for a spectrum of cases ranging from the mundane to murder, Miss Packe played a crucial and unusual role. As official stenographer, she was mostly the only woman in court and always the only person (other than the court president) allowed to address witnesses directly. In the build up to D-Day, US court martials proliferated throughout the country as military justice was meted amongst the hundreds of thousands of GI’s stationed in the UK. Sporting the American star on her shoulder, this stenographer extraordinaire for Britain’s south west region often captured press attention and at times, the news headline itself. A Briton at the Court of Yankees was how the Daily Herald saw her role at an extraordinary trial she reported on concerning a mutiny of African American soldiers in Cornwall in 1943.

Miss Packe proved her mettle at 15 by becoming the first Torquay girl guide to pass a new test for rangers – and in so doing bagged a prized viewpoint of King George VI’s 1937 coronation. In 1942 she was drafted by the Ministry of Labour from her role as secretary to the Principal of the National College of Domestic Sciences. She was just 20 when she became court reporter for the US Army. In later life Miss Packe recalled the grisly ritual accompanying the passing of a death sentence which involved those in the equivalent of the jury (an army panel) removing their guns, placing them on the table in front and pointing them towards the accused. She is reputed to have been one of the court reporters at Nuremberg – and remains a shining example of the remarkable, under-stated women who quietly and efficiently formed the nation’s backbone during the Second World War.

An American Uprising in Second World War England is available to preorder now from Pen and Sword Books

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