Finding Ella Harling is a community project based in the village of Wye in Kent. Residents are aiming to find out about the life of a girl who lived in the village during World War 1.
Sophie, a pupil at Wye School explains:
During the summer term Wye School has been researched the life of village resident Ella Harling who was 12 years old when the war broke out in 1914. She was a girl who lived in Wye, then volunteered to join the RAF on 21 January 1918, mending airplanes at Wye Aerodrome (the job of a sailmaker). Wye School knows very little about her life and who she was.
So far we know that Ella was the daughter of the policeman, Frederick William Harling and his wife Hattie Gertrude. She had an elder sister called Ethel and brothers Ernest, George and Albert. During the war the family lived at 3 Church Street in Wye. Ella wrote a diary consisting of eight exercise books, all of which are now at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Ella really enjoyed being in the RAF. She said in an interview given to the Cross and Cockade journal in 1984 that she loved it very much and was one of the first women to be a sailmaker in Wye. She said that managers were concerned that, as a sixteen-year old, she was too young to work at the aerodrome but her hard work paid off and she was allowed to stay.
The aim of the project is to find out more about Ella’s life. What exactly did she do during World War 1 and what happened to her subsequently? The schoolchildren are therefore planning a travelling exhibition and will contact the local media to appeal for information. Updates will be posted on Facebook.
The project is being run by Funder Films CIC, a company which is aiming to bring communities together by working on local history. As well as the children at Wye School, the project has involved residents at Brambles Care Home in Wye, and WoodnWare day care centre in Ashford.
Find out more at www.facebook.com/FindingEllaHarling.