In March 1945, a truck mechanic (No. 230873) in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, based at the Mechanical Transport Training Section, Camberley, Surrey, received a visit from her parents and her sister. Her parents just happened to be King George VI and the Queen, and her sister was Princess Margaret. That truck mechanic was Princess – later Queen – Elizabeth.

In 1942, at age 16, Elizabeth registered with the Labour Exchange –the British employment agency at the time – and was extremely keen to join a division of the women’s armed forces. Her father was reluctant to let her do so, but eventually relented. Once in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Elizabeth learned how to change a wheel, deconstruct and rebuild engines, and drive ambulances and other vehicles. 

Joining the ATS as an honorary Second Subaltern, Elizabeth achieved the rank of honorary Junior Commander within five months. Here she can be seen maintaining an Austin K2 ambulance and a “Tilly” light truck.

Unlike the other members of the ATS, Elizabeth returned each night to sleep in the royal residence of Windsor Castle.

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