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Wartime

The start of a saga of wartime love

Elizabeth Fleming told me some of this story in the years before she died, aged eighty, in 2010. The more graphic scenes are mine but the emotions and surrounding history are hers. She was my Great Aunt, great in so many ways for she was the third family member I ever revealed my sexuality to, the first two being my parents. I had known since girlhood that she shared a cottage in Hampshire with her friend, Portia, but had never known their relationship was more than sisterly. When I told her that I was gay, she said, “Me too, darling, me too.”

Portia was earthy, rather bohemian and very attractive even in old age. Lizzy, as she insisted I call her, was funny, unconventional and a brilliant story-teller. I loved her.

Friday

First Officer Portia Carlton thanked the Ordinary Wren who had driven us and we both stepped out into the cold spring air. We had been driven a few miles from the radar station we worked in to the estate where Carlton’s mother lived in the New Forest. The car had deposited us outside the lodge rather than the main house which was barely visible at the end of a long, curving drive.

During the journey Portia, who was about eight years older than my twenty-two, explained that her mother, Lady Carlton had been widowed about six years before and had stayed in the family home but had recently said there’d been a change in her circumstances.

“How did you get the car to bring us?”

“Admiral Carlton,” she said, “is an uncle of mine.” That explained it. “Come on then, Lizzy, let’s get inside.”

The lodge was red brick and the door, solid oak with black metal studs. As Portia closed the door a tall woman of about fifty came into the hall where a huge log fire raged in the fireplace and kissed her daughter.

“Hello, Mums. Meet my current squeeze, Lizzy.”

I was appalled. We had, it was true, become very close in the few months since I had graduated from the Women’s Royal Naval Service training course the previous November and been posted to the radar station that Portia commanded. We had, it was also true and in logical sequence: gone out for a drink together, held hands at the cinema, kissed rather chastely, kissed less chastely and on one night when we shared a billet while attending another training session, kissed a lot less chastely and explored each other’s body before sleeping. If we hadn’t been so tired I suspect more would have happened. That, though, was hardly the point. In 1942 one did not even hint at being lesbian, least of all to one’s parents.

“Lizzy darling, say hello to Mums.”

I extended my hand and said, “Hello, Lady Carlton.”

Lady Camilla Carlton ignored my hand and embraced me and kissed my cheek.

“Don’t look so shocked, Lizzy and for Christ’s sake call me Camilla. Portia and I have no secrets and I am delighted to meet you.” She was a force of nature, turning on her heel and leading the way into a sitting room. She seemed to know we would simply follow.

“It’s really too bad, Portia. The bloody Ministry of War simply commandeered the main house and told me, in no uncertain terms to leave the estate and find somewhere else to live. They wouldn’t even let me stay here in the lodge, all bloody hush hush or some such rot. Anyway, I had a word with Winston and, well, here I am. It’s not the same but at least I’m still here.”

Winston? I thought, Winston Churchill? Portia read my mind.

“He’s an old friend of Daddy’s.” Well, he would be, wouldn’t he?

“Tea?” Camilla looked at the clock. “No, gin, I think, don’t you?”

She went to a table to one side of the room and poured us all substantial gins and tonic and we sat on comfortable but well-worn leather chairs and chatted for a while. The room was small and cosy with a large fireplace and rather too-large furniture.

“Everything I have was in the main house. I wanted to get out as much as I could before those brutes ruin it all. How long can you stay?”

“We wangled a couple of two day passes, thanks to Uncle Admiral and the car will come for us on Sunday evening. I have to get her back before midnight or she’ll turn back into a civilian!”

Camilla smiled. “You don’t mind sharing a room, do you? What with rationing and so on, heating even this little place is so difficult. I’ve had Metcalfe air the room, set a fire and put decent sheets on so you’ll be fine.”

“We’ll make the best of it, Mums. Lizzy and I will be fine sharing.”

I felt distinctly uncomfortable but Camilla, typical of the decent aristocracy, was at pains to make me feel better.

“Nothing wrong with girls who like girls, Lizzy. I may not be of your persuasion but I’ve known Portia is for years. Metcalfe doesn’t live in so nobody will be any the wiser, she goes home once she’s served dinner. Just make yourselves at home.”

We chatted for a while and then she suggested we take our bags up to our room, freshen up and have a doze if we needed it and then get changed for dinner.

“I’m afraid I didn’t bring an evening dress.”

She smiled. “I meant simply get out of those dreary uniforms and into something that makes you feel like you’re on holiday.”

The Ordinary Wren driver had deposited our bags in the hall. The stairs were wide and led up to a landing. Camilla led the way and showed us to a room at one end of the landing. She opened the door and we went in.

“See you at seven, darlings.” Closing the door behind her she left us alone. The room was big compared to my billet near the radar station and the window looked down over parkland that rolled towards the big house. This view gave one a sense of just how big it was.

“I had no idea she knew.”

“Knew what?”

"About, well, you know.”

“Oh, you mean us being a pair of dykes? My darling Lizzy, my mother has many faults as do we all but she is not even remotely bothered about it. Her view is that life is too bloody short to get hot under the collar about a couple of girls having wonderful fun under her roof. Now, for God’s sake get that bloody uniform off and let me ravage you.”

In the event I didn’t get it off, she did. Slowly and with frequent stops for kissing and touching she undressed us both until, utterly naked, we subsided onto and into the bed. Portia knew how inexperienced I was.

“Are you still a virgin?”

I nodded. She pulled me into her embrace. “Have you experienced an orgasm?” I nodded again. “Tell me about it.”

Growing up at boarding school I had often lain in bed and stroked my intimate parts.

“You mean cunt, darling, let’s call a spade a shovel shall we?” She kissed my mouth to show she was being gentle.

Then one day I’d found one of my father’s anatomy books which dealt with the female reproductive organs in rather explicit detail and even mentioned the orgasm, although it did say this was not essential to reproduction.

“Bet it was written by a man. I’m told they don’t give a damn whether a woman enjoys herself as long as they do themselves.”

I went on to say how I’d used a mirror to examine myself and found that what had been nice suddenly became absolutely amazing. In fact, I’d been frightened by just how amazing.

Portia grinned. “I know. But we still have our hymen?” I nodded again. “Keeping it for Mr Right?”

“Stop teasing me. You know I’m not.”

She put a finger to my lips and then kissed me, insinuating her leg between mine and then it was all hands. Yes, we had touched before but this was something apart. We were building up, I knew, to our first proper time together and her hands gripped my arse as she pulled me onto her thigh. My breasts were licked and stroked and she guided me to do the same to her.

Kissing and cuddling and stroking were wonderful but when, after about ten minutes, she disappeared under the sheets and I felt her moist mouth moving down my body I was shocked. I lifted the sheet.

“What are you doing?” I hissed as quietly as I could.

“Lie back and think of Nelson, darling. You’re doing this for King and Country.”

And, then, oh God, and then she found me and I felt her tongue circling, licking and lapping at me. Her hands were under my arse and lifting me like a drinking bowl to her. A mixture of feelings ensued. Intimate parts were for touching of course, but not with lips or tongue. They are dirty. But then, heaven only knew how good it felt, so very good. Nothing had prepared me for how good. I didn’t want her to stop but she did.

She crawled up from under the bedclothes and kissed me a bit then, rolling onto her back said, “Your turn.” Sensing my hesitation she smiled. “If you don’t like it we’ll stop.”

Ineptly at first, hesitantly I tried to replicate what she had done to me. Her fingers held my hair gently and I could hear her words of encouragement and instruction as I improved. It was beautiful. I cast aside all sense of taboo, of middle class prudishness. I became wanton and my tongue explored deep into her until, to my surprise, she arched her back and her hips lifted. I was so surprised that I stopped but her fingers tightened in my hair and pulled me back to her. Understanding I was to continue I did so and was rewarded by her orgasm, sudden, violent with a lot of writhing, knee lifting and moans of pleasure. As she recovered I crawled back up to lie beside her, rather assuming that was that. How delightfully wrong I was.

“See?” She smiled and licked my lips lasciviously. “Now, my lovely Lizzy, it’s time for your first with another woman.”

She went down on me again, pushing my knees apart. She didn’t deflower me then but she brought me to a rather swift orgasm that was better than any I had experienced before. I, just as she had but unintentionally, stiffened, lifted my backside, gripped her hair and almost screamed as she brought me to a wonderful, wonderful climax.

Holding me to her, she whispered, “So much for you to learn my love. I’m going to take your virginity this weekend and then you’ll learn so much, so very much more.”

“Will it hurt?”

“Perhaps a little but, with Portia at the helm you won’t care, I promise.”

A door to one side of the room opened onto a bathroom and as I unpacked, Portia, naked, ran a bath.

“Hot water?”

“I know – amazing isn’t it? After our bloody huts this is luxury.” It truly was. We wallowed in steaming hot water in the big bath that allowed us to lie at either end, her legs over mine and she washed me and I her. She washed me as I had never been washed before; sitting up, one arm around my neck and holding my mouth to hers she used her other hand to soap and rinse my… my cunt. Still, she didn’t enter me more than a tiny fraction. But enough for me to know I’d never be happy until she was deep inside me. I told her so but she told me to wait.

“That, Third Officer Fleming, is a bloody order.”

We dressed, she in high-waisted trousers and I in a dowdy dress, the only one I had other than my uniform. It was just after seven and we went down to the sitting room again where Camilla was knocking back another gin.

“Get one for Lizzy unless she’d prefer something different.”

We talked then until Metcalfe told us dinner was ready. The meal was, to one accustomed to wartime Naval fare, breathtaking in both quality and volume. I could barely believe it.

“So your Pops is a doctor, Portia tells me?” I confirmed he was a consultant at the Bath General Hospital. “Does he do feet? Mine are a dreadful bloody mess.”

“I am afraid he’s a heart man.”

“Well, I don’t suppose it’ll be long before I need one of those.” She smiled. “Now, do you two girls mind but I’ve invited a couple of people over for dinner tomorrow evening. The vicar.” She stopped as Portia started to protest. “Not the old one, Darling. This one is quite the opposite of that sanctimonious old bugger. Harry Porter was a soldier in the last lot and decided, when he got out, that life would be safer in a vicarage than in a trench so he took holy orders. Doesn’t believe a word of it but reckoned that the Church of England wouldn’t give a fuck about that and that the odd elderly widow might leave him some cash if he did a passable job.” Portia and I laughed at this although I confess my mind was almost completely absorbed in the delights of roast beef. I don’t think I had tasted anything like it since my Mother died.

“I’ve also invited his wife, Dorothy. She’s a sweety. Does a lot of ‘good things’ like making socks for soldiers et cet but also has an absolutely filthy mind, loves a laugh and is positively one of us.

“Poor old Frank Hunt-Parker copped it last year so I’ve asked his wife, Laura too. She’s been very brave. Apparently, a bomb landed just as he was coming out of his office in Portsmouth and she’s not sure quite what she buried. Brave little thing though. She says she’s one of hundreds and more to come so she might as well get on with it.

“Lastly I’ve asked the doctor, Gordon Franklin. He’s relatively new, rather dishy and single. I don’t think he’s queer so you never know, Mums might get lucky.”

She hardly stopped talking through the roast, the dessert and the coffee. We drank a deep red wine with the meal and brandy with the coffee and I could hardly walk straight at the end.

That didn’t stop Portia taking me to bed and doing a delicious repeat of the pre-dinner performance.

Saturday

On the Saturday morning, I woke up and lay on my side looking at the sleeping Portia. Her breasts were larger than mine and full. Her hair, long and black when unpinned was spread untidily but beautifully across the white pillows. I was shorter than her but in bed, we had fitted together so well, so naturally.

Slowly she came to and as her eyes opened she smiled. “Still here then?” I kissed her, hard and ran my hands over her. “My, my, you seem to be getting a taste for me.”

“Oh, you have no idea.”

Our lovemaking developed slowly from a drowsy, post-sleep caress to a building climax.

“I want your virginity, Lizzy. Will you give it to me?”

“Yes.”

“Just yes?”

“I want you to take it.”

Portia sat up, her breasts moving deliciously. She organised our bodies with, it seemed to me, careful precision. She spread her legs and had me sit with my backside on the bed next to her so her left arm could go around my shoulders and hold me to her. My legs were laid out across hers and as we kissed her right hand stroked my thigh. She let her hand roam freely over my thigh and belly, up to my breasts and then down to my knee. She kept this up for minutes and never once came into contact with my cunt. Her tongue slithered in and out of my mouth and that hand, that damned hand kept up the torment of denying my body what it craved.

She separated from me briefly and smiled. “You want me to, really?”

“For fuck’s sake!”

“And there was me thinking you had class.” Her tongue pressed into my mouth again and then, bliss, as her finger ran between my lips. I wanted more and moved my hips forward but she shushed me and continued to rub my clitoris and circle the entrance to me. It was gentle, loving and utterly, amazingly arousing. I was almost floating. It was at that point that I felt the strange change in my awareness as my orgasm began. My body felt hot, my nipples were genuinely hurting and my back became taut. I was then aware only of the rush of molten lava that seemed to well up in me. She held me tight and continued to kiss me as I began to climax so violently that when her finger penetrated me in one gentle but irresistible thrust I felt the sting but it merged into the wonderful outpouring of pleasure that it became a part of it. Somehow she managed to penetrate me and allow me to feel the amazing pleasure of being invaded before my climax peaked.

Never in my life had anything so blissful overwhelmed my body. Little orgasms, like tremors after an earthquake, seemed to keep coming through my body.

Portia held my heaving body to her warm breasts and kissed my face.

I looked up into her deep blue eyes. “Christ, Portia.”

“Not sure the almighty had much to do with that, darling.”

“Where did you learn?”

She grinned. “Switzerland, actually. A rather nice American lady, from Little Rock.” She seemed to rock me gently as she recounted the story. “I was being finished at a ghastly school and met her in a café in town when I’d taken a bit of French leave. I suspect that encounter started me rather than finished.”

She licked my mouth and then said, “I think the time has come, Third Officer, for your First Officer to have a little lip service.”

I grinned and moved so that as she sat, I was between her thighs and I paid lip service as I never had before. It was only my second time but I’m a quick learner.

“Great sex must not be confused with love.” We were walking Lady Carlton’s dog, a border collie called Frank because Camilla loved Sinatra. “It doesn’t mean you can’t be in love and have great sex but some people mistake great sex for love which is dangerous.”

“Is this a warning?”

She stopped and so did I. Frank who had been leading the way turned and circled us, trying to get us to move as he would sheep if Camilla’d had any.

She took both of my hands in hers and kissed me. “Sort of, yes. I haven’t used the L word and I won’t until I know. I’m just suggesting you do the same. Don’t misunderstand me. I adore you and I think I might be in love but I need to know I am.”

We stood like that for a while, the warming Spring sun on us and Frank getting increasingly anxious we should move on. I had somehow imagined that the first time someone told me she was in love with me might be more romantic. My initial dismay eased to understanding as we walked and I realised that she was actually being very loving. She was allowing me the room to think about love. My turn to stop, much to Frank’s annoyance.

“What?”

“Thank you.”

“For?”

“Oh, I don’t know: honesty, kindness, gentleness and, oh I almost forgot, great sex.”

She grinned and we walked on arriving back at the Lodge in time for tea with Camilla.

We went upstairs and Portia went through a wardrobe in another room and found a dress for me to wear that evening. It was too long but she said we could shorten it. I took my uniform off (I’d worn it with a borrowed duffel coat for the walk) and she said, "take all the rest off, darling, your commanding officer requires you naked." We spent a hilarious hour measuring and stitching and kissing and finally, it sort of fitted me at least to the extent that I could walk without tripping over it.

We dressed for dinner, I in the grey silk dress we’d adjusted to almost fit and Portia in a gorgeous deep blue that made her breasts discreetly obvious.

Dinner was another feast. I sat between the new vicar and the handsome doctor. There were, thankfully, no embarrassing revelations regarding my relationship with Portia but many about local characters.

Camilla. “That ghastly man, Summers, who runs the Red Lion pub was caught watering his beer.”

Porter, the vicar. “Not surprised. I’ve been there a lot and never once got pie-eyed. Not like coming here.”

Porter’s wife, Dorothy. “You were absolutely plastered on Wednesday.”

Porter. “That was because I’d had some of his black market scotch.”

Laura Hunt-Parker, the widow, to me. “It’s so refreshing having a vicar who gets lit up now and then. His predecessor was a miserable old goat.”

Camilla. “He absolutely adored the choir boys though.”

Porter. “Rather too much I think. The Bishop told me that he’d been moved to Wales for 'health reasons but not his own’ so I think we can assume the worst.”

Dr Franklin. “I feel as though I have moved into a rather dissolute community.”

Dorothy. “Christ, yes. Marvelous isn’t it? When Harry first went into the church they sent us to Wales. Bloody place is utterly sanctimonious about drink and almost everything else fun. Harry and I threw a little drinks party the first week we were there. They got through more lemonade than anything else. Harry was the only one legless at the end. Very sniffy about it they were.”

Camilla to the doctor. “You’ll be treating more cases of the clap than anything else around here.”

And on it went. For a middle class girl from a stuffy home and boarding school, it was rich fare. I knew the upper classes were less bothered by sex and manners and all the things that had been banged into me but their lack of convention was startling, heady stuff.

The party removed from the dining room to the sitting room for brandy and the banter continued. The vicar and his wife got rather drunk but pleasantly. I particularly liked the widow. There was no mention of the war, as if it was a subject that, for one night at least, we could avoid.

Portia and I went up to our room when the guests had left. We were both tired and enjoyed a languorous kiss and cuddle before falling asleep wrapped together.

Sunday

I woke Portia by kissing her naked back and licking down and down until I was kissing the small depression at the base of her spine. She woke up, she later told me, long before I was aware of it.

“I was enjoying it too much. If I’d let you know I was awake you’d have stopped.”

As she said this I was sitting very much as I had the previous morning, her left arm across my shoulders, my legs across hers and with her hand between them. The difference this time was that after the same torturing caressing that left me wanting her inside me she gave in and I felt, really for the first time in my life, the deliciously slow exploration of my core by a woman’s finger. I was clinging to her, alternately kissing her mouth or nuzzling into her neck as her finger slowly opened me, curled into me and began to stroke deep inside me.

She whispered little words of encouragement as I panted. She seemed to know what worked to make me as aroused as possible. A sudden awareness came over me that I was passively receiving all her attention and I wanted her to feel much as I did. A look of surprise passed across her lovely face as I moved to kneel at her side. I guided her left hand to my cunt and she cupped me before slipping it into me. As she did I did the same to her, my left hand between her legs and my finger curling into her, just as hers did to me. We kissed and fingered and it seemed to go on and on but I could feel her breath coming faster, just like my own.

The violence of her climax startled me. She gripped my shoulder and almost screamed into my mouth. Its astonishing intensity seemed to fuel my own, less spectacular but nonetheless delicious. We stayed locked together, fingers inside each other, panting, kissing. Somehow our bodies ended up lying side by side, hands held.

“Bloody hell, Fleming. You are a quick study.”

We both laughed.

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

“If anyone finds out we’re an item we’ll be separated, you do realise that, don’t you?”

“Then we must make sure nobody does, mustn’t we?”

The Ordinary Wren collected us just after tea that afternoon. We sat in the back of the noisy, draughty car and kept a distance between us as we went through the transformation from two lovers enjoying a dirty, beautifully dirty weekend to the life of two officers of different ranks travelling back to the real world.

Wartime is hell. Wartime as a serving WREN was hard and the more so because we had to lead a secret life. Stolen kisses, aching desire unfulfilled and, ultimately, forced separation when I was posted to another installation. We still saw each other occasionally; weekends with Camilla or brief leave when we could make it coincide, we even managed to share a room on a training course for four blissful nights.

 

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