Veteran Stories:
Florence C Lewis

Army

  • Florence Lewis' book on Regulations for Drivers of M.T. Vehicles and Universal Carriers and Motorcyclists from 1944.

    Florence Lewis
  • Pages from Regulations for Drivers of M.T. Vehicles and Universal Carriers and Motorcyclists, Florence Lewis' driver handbook from 1944.

    Florence Lewis
  • Official portrait of Florence Lewis in uniform, in 1944.

    Florence Lewis
  • Florence Lewis is pictured here sitting in her jeep in Ottawa, Ontario, 1945.

    Florence Lewis
  • Florence Lewis is pictured here standing next to her car in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1945.

    Florence Lewis
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"I didn’t know how to drive a car, but I didn’t want to stay in an office. I wouldn’t see anything, so that’s why I chose transportation"

Transcript

The reason I joined up, my mother was a widow and she had five children; and I was the oldest one. It was time for me to move on, to make it easier for her. That was the reason I joined. And I wanted to help out too, of course. I enlisted in [CFB] Calgary [into the Canadian Women’s Army Corps], went down to [No. 3 Canadian Women’s Army Corps Basic Training Centre] Kitchener. Then to [No. 11 Non-Permanent Active Militia Training Centre] Woodstock; and I spent 17 months in [CFB] Ottawa. I was a transportation driver and it was something like a taxi. You had different jobs to do. I spent a lot of my time around the Parliament Buildings. I didn’t know how to drive a car, but I didn’t want to stay in an office. I wouldn’t see anything, so that’s why I chose transportation. We were in Kitchener the first time; and we spent two months just learning how to drive. And you had to pass before they would send you on, but I made it. Oh, it was like, that place was like a taxi. You had to go on the routes that they, the schedule they made up for you. And you’d have to stay on that schedule for a week. And we also, in between, if you had no runs to go on, they would send you out to pick up somebody. It was mostly men, especially to the airport, you know, you were in and out picking up people too. All men, no ladies. I never saw a lady that I ever had to pick up. But I know this one night I went out there and it was storming; and they get a lot of snow down there, eh. And here I am, and I had three men with me and I couldn’t see anything. And they couldn’t see; and they said, oh, you have good eyes, you can see where you’re going. But I was standing up with my foot on the gas and the door opened so I could see. Yeah. Oh yes, we went through things like that. When the war was over on VE [Victory in Europe] Day, I had to run downtown, but I had a jeep. There was people all over, you know. And I tried to go to where I had to go down on Sparks Street, that’s the main street in Ottawa, and I couldn’t hardly move. By the time I get, got downtown there were 10 or 12 people, army people, hanging onto the jeep. That was fun. They, they wouldn’t let go because, I mean, they were partying already. But I was still on duty. I had a hard time getting through that day; it took me a long time. Of course, they questioned me when I got back what I was doing, you know. I said, well, you couldn’t hardly see, even on the streets because there was paper all over the place, you know, throwing paper out of the windows and all this kind of stuff you see on TV. That was a good experience though. That made you grow up, it really did. I knew of the girls, if they weren’t old enough, you know what I mean, to go overseas or anything like that, they were stuck as cooks or in the offices, you know what I mean? They did work like that. Well, I didn’t want to be stuck in one place. I wanted to go and see something, which we did. I met this girl in Calgary, my friend, she’s up north right now. And her and I were talking, and we decided that together, that we would do this. We would not go into secretarial work and all this, so you’re in an office and you can’t get out anyplace and, which was better because we were gone the whole day, eh, working and they’re behind here. No fun. [laughs] Yeah, that was adventure.
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