So women were shipped into RAF Alconbury and The Aquarius Club every Friday and Saturday evening to socialise with the airmen and were able to do so for the affordable sum of fifty pence for the round bus trip. I’m sure that many of the women made the trips with romantic notions of handsome American airforce men who would come along like a knight in shining armour, whisk them off their feet, marry them and take them away to the glamour of the USA. Some of the women were regulars who made the trip every weekend but most weeks would see a few new faces, enticed by their friends, hoping for romance and excitement.The ratio of women to men was two to one at weekends, so it is easy to see why some saw this as a ‘meat market’ and women seen as ‘easy pickings’.
Nicknames for the women from various towns emerged such as ‘Corby Commandos’ and ‘Leicester Molesters’. The origins of these names are uncertain but one story goes; the entrance fees were usually paid for by the by the man who signed the woman in and escorted her. Before singing in was required, the first fifty women through the doors were allowed in free of charge, creating a stampede to be one of the first in. Viewing this rush one evening and the women fighting to get into the club, a young airman is said to have turned to his friend and said, “Look at them, they look like a bunch of bloody commandos”.
The Aquarius Club obviously became extremely popular and every weekend it would be packed with standing room only. Most of the people were in their twenties but there were also some groups of slightly older members in their early and mid thirties. Whatever their age, they went along to enjoy the atmosphere, music, dancing, to indulge in cocktails and pizza and to play the slot machines. Undoubtedly, the biggest attraction was the the chance to enjoy the company of the opposite sex. Many did go on to meet their future spouses, some women moving to the USA and some US airmen married and remained in the UK. For many though the attraction dwindled over time and they stopped going. For many there were illicit affairs, frequently leading to heartache and tears. For some women there was pregnancy and being abandoned with an illegitimate child, the father long gone back to the USA with no chance of tracing him, the repercussions extending for generations.
Those who made the weekly trips were generally working class women, seeking some glamour and excitement to take them away from the monotony and drudgery of their everyday lives. Wanting to break free from factory work, the cold, grey climate and the large council estates where many of them lived, it offered them an escape route, a glimpse of a different future and the the possibility of a new life, far away from their nosy and disapproving neighbours.