BBC archives reveal story of South Yorkshire woman turned down by RAF - because of Russian granny

A story about a South Yorkshire woman whose career hopes were thwarted by the Cold War has resurfaced in a vintage news video released by the BBC.

By Julia Armstrong
Friday, 28th May 2021, 4:45 am
Anne Marie Lozinsky shown at work at a Barnsley supermarket
Anne Marie Lozinsky shown at work at a Barnsley supermarket

John Stapleton of Watchdog fame visited Barnsley for TV news show Nationwide in 1976 to talk to Anne Marie Lozinsky. She was rejected when she wanted to become an RAF nurse because she didn’t conform to nationality rules.

The story was first broadcast by Nationwide on January 15, 1976.

Anne Marie is first seen working on the tills in a Barnsley supermarket and John’s voiceover describes her as “a hard-working, ambitious sort of girl” with three O-levels whose horizons stretch much further than working in a supermarket.

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Reporter John Stapleton, looking at Anne Marie's rejection letter

She explains why she wanted to become an RAF nurse: “I wanted to travel and I wanted to meet people and care for people, so RAF nursing seemed to be the answer.”

Unfortunately Anne Marie’s application was rejected, with a letter from the Ministry of Defence explaining that she had been turned down.

Anne Marie tells John: “I was very disappointed and very upset then, later on, angry.

“Well, the letter I received was very polite and formal but the only explanation they gave was nationality reasons and to me that didn’t mean a thing.”

Anne Marie's Polish-born dad, unnamed in the clip, who fought for Britain during the war

John explains the relevant rule in MoD regulations, which states that both parents of any RAF recruit must have been born in the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

He continues: “Now, Anne Marie’s dad was born in Poland. However, he fought for Britain during the war and he is now a British citizen. In fact, he’s lived here longer than he did in his home country.”

John says that the rule is often waived, so he thinks the problem is “the granny connection”.

Anne Marie's granny - her home in Russia is the reason John believes Anne Marie was turned down by the RAF

He says: “You see, Mr Lozinsky’s 78-year-old mum, Anne Marie’s granny, lives in a bit of Poland which after the war became a part of Russia.”

That would have been a problem during the Cold War.

John asks Anne Marie: “Do you feel like you’re a security risk?", to which she replies: “I’ve nothing to tell anybody.”

The film is part of a series of vintage clips from Yorkshire that have been released by the BBC archives. To watch it, find this story in the Retro section of our website,