AS York woman Barbara Dallas turns 100 today she can look back on a life that reads like a film script – in fact part of her story did become a movie: 'The Dam Busters'!

Barbara was a photography officer in the WAAF - the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force - during the Second World War.

On the morning of September 23, 1942, she was tasked with an exercise on board a low flying bomber, to take aerial photographs of the trials of a new type of secret bomb.

Barbara had no idea of the significance of what she was doing - but the bombs in question were the now famous ‘bouncing bombs’, designed to breach German dams.

Gazette & Herald: Barbara Dallas rose to Photography Officer in the WAAF, the first woman to do so

Barbara, who lives in Walmgate, York, said: “I was told to don my battledress as we were going over to Scampton – one of our group’s Lancaster stations by the seaside.

“The trousers were deadly scratchy, but I was glad of them when the riggers and fitters had to manhandle me into the very tight cockpit of the huge Lancaster. I had never been in a bomber.

“I was to play the part of the bomb-aimer and press the ‘bomb gone button’ and coordinate the camera to take consecutive pictures of an object being dropped. I had to crawl along the cockpit to the bomb-aimer’s bench, lie flat on my tummy and look down through the perspex onto the sea below and arrange the camera.

“We took off with a roar and flew so low that I feared we would end up in the drink. It was a wonderful clear day, and the sea was sparkling in the sun. I felt like a seagull– it was a wonderful real flying experience!”

It was only years later, when Barbara saw the 1955 film The Dam Busters, that she realised the role she played in the war effort. The photographic technique she used was even copied in making the film.

Gazette & Herald: Barbara Dallas at RAF Old Sarum

Her daughter, Angela Burt, 75, said Barbara's stepfather Ernst had advised her against a job in the WAAF.

"As she was a woman, he thought she’d just be making cups of tea and should use her talents elsewhere, but she was very clever, rising to the ranks of photography officer, and he was very proud of her," said Angela.

But Barbara had an exciting career in the WAAF travelling around England, starting in training courses in Morecambe and Blackpool, to postings in Old Sarum, the Army cooperation station near Salisbury, RA Bournemouth and Abingdon.

At RAF Binbrook she helped to plot bombing raids, taking aerial photographs to help work out plans for the bombers to follow.

She took pictures of the crews before they were sent on missions, which was how she met her airman husband, Ian Dallas, before he was posted to Algeria for the Eighth Army’s invasion of Sicily.

Gazette & Herald: Barbara with husband Ian Dallas celebrating their Diamond wedding anniversary in 2005

The couple married in 1945 in Bradford, first settling in Harrogate, and went on to have three children, Angela, Colin, and Andrew, eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Barbara wasn’t originally from the UK - and her youth is worthy of another movie script. She is of Swiss-German descent, having fled Germany to England aged 17 as a refugee at the start of the war as her stepfather was Jewish.

Barbara is celebrating her 100th birthday today with her family in Nidderdale.

Read Barbara's full story in The Press on Friday or click here to read it now.