Medals Awards - 1939 to 1945 War Service Medal; Women's Army Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal.
ERA, Battle of Britain, London Blitz of World War II.
Agnes ‘Pat’ Pflueger,
British Army His Majesty’s Service
Education: London District Public Elementary; Ursulime Academy High School Brabant, Belgium; Gregg Business College, London
Jobs Held: Civil Service stenographer, Army Territorial Service and Basic Artillery Training
Duties: Stenographer, Gunner Artillery Coastal Defense
Duty Stations: Stenographer Civil Servant East End of London; Army Territorial Service (ATS); Berkshire Artillery Gunner School; Battery 609Heavy Anti-Aircraft; Glasgow, Scotland (protect the dry docked Queen Mary); 554th Heavy Artillery Battery located in Langford; Birmingham Major industrial area
War Bride - Public Act 271 Passed 1945 by Congress to provide and guarantee safe passage of his wife and all children to the veterans' doorstep.
Married April 1, 1945, to Lester Pfleuger (a Yank) from Hanover, N.Y.
Details that lead to her marriage: March 29, 1945, telegram sent to Agnes Renton in London, England March 19, 1945 from Sgt. Lester Pfleuger, Munich, Germany.
Have 24 hour pass........STOP Get Ready to Get Married............stop Arriving Saturday................STOP Love Lester
Family - father Albany Renton, steamfitter, Copra plantation later killed as a Japanese prisoner of war. Brother, Gilbert Renton served in the Australian Army in Egypt. Son, Terry; Daughter-in-Law: Gail Pfleuger. Grandchildren: Ellen, Cindy, Lisa, Amy Jo. Eight great-grandchildren.
Agnes Pfleuger was born Feb. 7, 1919, toward the end of World War I, in London, England. She was born at London's Maternity Hospital within the sound of Bow Bells in London's cheap-side district which according to tradition made her a true cockney (term used to describe the working class of London mainly referring to it's east end). The family resided at 19 Denmark St., in London at the home of her grandmother.
Her parents were Albany and Agnes (Watts) Renton. Her father was the youngest of his family. He was a steam fitter in one of London's many shipyards on the Thames River. Agnes' mother worked in a factory as a dressmaker.
In 1928, the family left England when Agnes was 8 years old with the end of World War I. The country now was left only with a few good jobs. Agnes's father had worked for her uncle who had worked the sheep farms in Australia then went on to start a Copra Plantation in Papua, New Guinea. Her father, after learning the Copra business, also became a plantation owner. (Copra is the word for coconuts when they are grown and then later they would be dried and made ready for shipping). Agnes recalling the trip which at the time could only be done by ship because there were no plane routes. It took six long weeks. She now lived on a Copra plantation where the cocoa was picked by natives, then cut the outside fiber off, took off the shell, cut it in half and let it dry in the sun. Later it was shipped overseas to be used in making soap and cooking products.
Pfleuger attended a one-room class where half the class was white and the others were natives from up to 12 different tribes. These schools were called settlement schools.
When she was 12 years old her mom was severely ill and her family moved back to England. Her mom stayed in England and her dad went back to New Guinea. Pfleuger attended school in Belgium. After graduation in 1936 she and her grandmother wanted Agnes to travel to New Guinea to visit her dad. Her father purchased tickets for the ship for her to sail from London to New Guinea. But one week before the ship's departure England had declared war on Germany and by doing so all ships were now under control of the British government. Ships were to be used only for transporting war items and troops.
In London Pfleuger received a job as a stenographer for the National Electric Co. The government now took over the country and deemed that if you were in a job you were to stay in that job. With the country at war, the women were doing the jobs that were normally done by men. They worked in mines, truck driving, heavy equipment work, etc.
The draft came (the 1943 Army Draft Law) and women were not exempt unless they were working in a war factory. Working at the electric company, Pfleuger was told by her boss that they would apply for an exemption for her because she was doing the job of two people. Pfleuger was performing the work of another girl who left to join the army and ended up in Burma. Pfleuger received only one six-month deferment. She then was eligible to be drafted and her choices were she believed was army, navy, or the air corp having qualifications as a stenographer and the shortage of men in the army.
She was now a member of the British women's army, called the ATS (Army Territorial Service) whose duties were only to serve in Britain and not overseas duty in protecting England's coastal territories from enemy German air bombing runs.
After three weeks of training, she was called to artillery school in Berkshire where artillery gunners were trained and gun batteries were being formed. She learned aircraft recognition of both enemy and allied planes by means of silhouettes on large screens.
While she was at artillery school she was informed that while attached to the gun batteries every day encounters with enemy German Messerschmitts, Torniers, and Sturgis dive bombers were inevitable. Her next assignment was the 609 heavy aircraft battery near Glasgow, Scotland, on a high clilff on the River Clyde. Their major assignment at this site was to protect the luxury liner, Queen Mary, which was in dry dock for repairs and being refitted to transport troops from Australia to London.
Pfleuger's next assignment took her to the 554th heavy artillery battery located at Landguard Fort in Suffolk on the East Coast facing the North Sea. Here the duty was to intercept German planes as they were enroute to London. She drew double duty one of being a stenographer to major James Lord and the other when needed to help man he 4.5 inch artillery gun equipped with sperry predictor height and range finders and automatic fuse setters. Here Pfleuger had witnessed heavy German activity which included at times firing on German planes like the messermidts, torniers and the stura dive bombers.
It was here at Languard where Agnes met her future husband, Staff Sgt. Lester Pfleuger, a yank from this very small town in America, called Hanover, N.Y. This small town is located not far from Niagara Falls.
Lester was assigned to 833rd aviation engineers who were building new landing strips for the new B-17 flying fortresses which later participated in the Normandy invasion.
Later assignments took Agnes to the major industrial area of Birmingham, where numerous military factories needed around the clock protection. Later her unit was sent to Swnsea, Wales to protect ships in the Bristol Channel. Germans started using their dreaded VI and V2 rockets and long ranged land propelled missles.
While I was interviewing Pfleuger at the Chautauqua County home in the third hour of my normally one hour interviews I realized that this was a two-story interview. One being about two hereos and the other about WWII war brides, which was published last week.
I asked Agnes about meeting Lester for the very first time. Was it love at first sight? Was it the first time you were with a yank? I then asked what made this one yank so special? She smiled and then shook her head saying he was a yank, but he was a persistant yank!
They then kept seeing each other off and on depending on what the war and their military duties required. Then finally with the war coming to it's end. Lester was in Munich, Germany waiting for his discharge had made a decision that would change Agne's life. When given a two day pass for London he decided to use that two day pass to make this girl from London his wife. Agne's received the telegram referenced above on April 29, 1945:
Where does one start after saying yes to marriage in a war zone? Will it be in church? Will there be a priest? Will it be the day? After some persuasion, the sacrament of marriage was administered at St. Francis Church in London. It was Easter Sunday of 1945. Since it was Easter Sunday it required the permission from the Bishop of London to approve this marriage and its date.
The newlywed couple immediately after the sacrament was administered had to be separated because Lester was due back to his unit. This newlywed couple after receiving he sacrament of marriage and just having one wedding kiss had to leave each other at the church steps in order for Lester to get back to Munich. He didn't want to be listed as AWOL (absent without official leave). While watching his jeep flee away from the steps of St. Francis Church in London Agnes stood alone with a tear rolling down her cheek.
Two days after their marriage in Munich, Lester received his orders to return home, along with his honorable discharge. Agnes was alone in London and waited for over a year just to get passage to come to the states to be with her husband.
Due to the high number of marriages between United States servicemen and British girls there was a waiting list for transportation of war brides. Agnes received her United States citizenship two years later. Life had brought Lester and Agnes 62 years of happiness. Agnes lost her true love, Lester in August of 2009.
Agnes Pfleuger is a resident of the Chautauqua County Home where she serves as secretary of the residents council. To do Agnes Pfleuger's story was truly an honor. It was an honor to just meet her, knowing that she had something that I wanted, that couldn't be bought or traded for. It was something so valuable, yet has no dollar value.
I had the opportunity to talk to her at the Chautauqua County Home and she told me whatever I wanted to know about what really happened during the war days in London.
She could tell me how life really was from going into a coffee shop and everyone in the restaurant having to share the same spoon to stir their coffee because silver was to be given to the military for the war effort. Each coffee shop was rationed to one silver spoon. The rationing of going to the corner store to get butter and having a store clerk taking a wooden spoon into a tub and bringing out your allotment and placing it on a plate that you had brought in.
Stories of only having one winter coat per year, no selection, if it fit you bought it! There were no silk stockings and no private cars. Everywhere you went was by bus or walking. It was a time in life where everyone was in the same boat, no one was better then the other. You were all there to survive.
Agnes Pfleuger, the stenographer, artillery crew member and the war bride. She made it. She's done alright. No regrets! Her story is now told and I hope I have told it well. Another local hero with another story of one one from our area had just done their job. For that Agnes Pfleuger is our hero of the week.
- Submitted by John Fedyszyn, Fredonia