"I saw General Eisenhower and I saluted him. He said, good morning Sergeant, he had a big grin on his face. But the Canadian general gave me the dirtiest look."
I was shopping with my girlfriend and we saw an advertisement for joining the army [Canadian Women’s Army Corps] so we went into the recruiting office and we signed up. She later changed her mind but I continued on, waiting to be called up.
It was a Saturday afternoon and I heard about a month later, they asked me to come for, to have a medical examination. That’s how it all started.
They sent me to the [Royal Canadian] Ordinance Corps where I started out as a clerk there. I wasn’t very happy with the job I had but I did it for, oh, I guess about six or seven months. But then a new officer came in as our commander and he spoke to me and asked me if I liked my job and I told him I really didn’t like it and I would like to get into inspections. And so they had just hired an officer -not hired, brought an officer, a female officer in so they thought they’d have a female crew to do inventory for the different camps around and the troops going overseas. So I was sent to the inspections and that’s where I started out.
We would go into camp and first of all, get the ledgers out and find out what they had been charged with, how many beds, how many pails and Bren guns for practice and fake hand grenades. And we would have to count everything; we’d make a list of what we were looking for. And then we would go through the camp, counting how many beds they had and how many mattresses and so on and make a list of them and find out, you know, what they had and see what the shortages were. And if they had a lot of shortages, our officer would write them off as expendable and so it would take two or three days but this is what we did.
But usually, we’d then go into a camp for three days at a time, then when we’d come back to Toronto again, we’d get another assignment. We used to have to take the train and go to a different camp and one day we were going to North Bay to do an audit up there and we went to the Royal York [hotel] to have lunch and it was getting kind of late and so there’s a tunnel from the Royal York to Union Station so we decided we’d go through the tunnel. We often did that when we had lunch in the Royal York.
So anyway, we ran to the tunnel and there was a guard standing there. And I said, what’s going on and he said, well, you can’t use this today. I said, why? And he said, well, there’s somebody coming through, it’s all top secret, so no one’s supposed to go in the tunnel. And I said, what’s the difference, we’re in the army, I said, I have to catch a train and the three of us were standing there and he said, well, if you run through - but don’t take any time.
So anyway, we started to hurry through the tunnel and then all of a sudden, I saw the flag and all these generals coming with red on their hats and I thought, oh my gosh, what have we done. So I said to the other two girls, stand against the wall. And because I was the highest rank, I thought, I’ll just salute and stand here like we’re part of a guard.
So we stood with our backs to the wall and when they came up I saw General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower [Supreme Allied Commander] and I saluted him. He said, good morning Sergeant, he had a big grin on his face. But the Canadian general gave me the dirtiest look. I thought, oh my God, I’m going to be court-martialed! It was funny. After they’d passed, we broke into a run and we went and caught our train.
It was some camp that was only men in it. And the minute they announced the war was over, the commander said, get the women out of the camp. We don’t know; everybody’s going crazy. So we had to leave immediately and go back to Toronto.
They went crazy. We went downtown and I’m not kidding, everybody was dancing in the streets and oh, we had a great time, everybody was hugging one another, it was really a great celebration.