Veteran Stories:
Edith Marie Collins

Air Force

  • Edith Marie Collins and Lavada Beesack nee Conduit in front of United States service plane in August of 1944. Edith and 'Lot' travelled or 'hitch-hiked' after their discharge via American Navy planes.

    Edith Marie Collins
  • The 'duty boat' which ran between Halifax and Dartmouth Nova Scotia, shuttling service personnel free of charge between cities in 1944.

    Edith Marie Collins
  • The interior of the W.R.N.S. - A.T.S. - W.A.A.F Service Club in New York City visited by Collins while on leave in May 1944. She was provided a place to stay on Park Avenue, and given two tickets to a Broadway show by this service club.

    Edith Marie Collins
  • The Royal Canadian Air Force Discharge papers of Edith Marie Collins nee Hudson, August 1946. Collins also received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.

    Edith Marie Collins
  • The article featured the trip Edith Marie, Lavada and Peggy Ferguson took around the United States on service planes at the end of their war service in 1946.

    Edith Marie Collins
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"We had to sit three to a seat meant for two people, and sailors stretched out on the luggage racks above. Even the restrooms were crowded."

Transcript

Mirandy Hudson, and I was in the RCAF, WD branch. I was stationed in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, when I planned a trip home to Vancouver for Christmas - a trip that was to take me a whole week. A friend Betty Ramsey and I took the duty boat across the harbour to Halifax, and joined hordes of other service personnel all trying to board the same train. Betty managed to get on, but I had to wait several hours for the next one. This one was very crowded, too. We had to sit three to a seat meant for two people, and sailors stretched out on the luggage racks above. Even the restrooms were crowded. We ran into a snowstorm before reaching Montreal, and were held up for sixteen hours. The water pipes froze. The conductor struggled through, calling for a doctor. Apparently a small baby had pneumonia. In Montreal I called my Corporal, who was there on sick leave. She and her cousin came and took me home with them for a few hours. A lovely break before again joined the crowds at the station. Miraculously, I was reunited with Betty. We made it on to the train, and slept as best we could on the crowded seat. At 7 am, the conductor announced a twenty minute stop in North Bay. We got off to get a quick coffee and a bun, but when we got out, the train was just pulling away from the station. The station-master wired ahead to the next little town to have our belongings waiting for us there, and told us a special would be coming through at 1 pm - a special being either war brides or wounded. This train wasn't crowded, so the conductor made up a berth for us. Alas, an hour later a wheel came off the engine, and we sat for hours in a deserted snow covered area. We arrived in Winnipeg late at night. We'd missed our connection, but we heard a sailor say there was a train leaving the other station, Canadian National Railway, so we crowded into a Navy van, and managed to board this other train. It was standing room only, but a WD next to Betty offered to share her lower berth. This prompted a lady next to me to share her upper berth, and a Christmas cake her mother had made. Not much sleep, but she was an interesting companion - the only female geologist in Canada at the time. In Edmonton, most of the passengers debarked, and the conductor offered us a berth for twenty dollars, an exorbitant fee, but we paid because we were desperate for sleep. So we arrived in Vancouver, rested after all, and ready to enjoy beautiful Christmas.
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