Della Sprague, 1946.Della Sprague
A photo from basic training in 1943, Della is in the top row, third from the right.Della Sprague
A Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) statuette.Della Sprague
A CWAC emblem from Ste Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, 1944.Della Sprague
Della's unit marching in 1944. She is in the right hand column second row.Della Sprague
"It was so bad for morale if the pay documents were lost. So I would work at whatever hours were required to make sure that everything was ready for the draft."
We opened the way for women. They knew they didn’t really need to stay at home all the time and do those chores. Well, I was finished high school and business college and working in Moncton. And I found things very dull and I had a girlfriend, close friend, who was in the service. And I decided, because of her, to join. And when I decided to join, I had a good friend who was also working with me and we joined together.
My training was on-the-job training. So I just was given – the Part Two Orders [the record of a soldier’s pay and allowances], always affected people’s pay. So I had a ledger, anything that had to do with that man’s pay, I posted to his pay ledger, his pay account, and into the dual pay account. And I didn’t know why I was doing it to start with but I learned what to do. Then I began understanding the process and I loved it.
I liked going with the paymaster on payday. We paid in cash. I took the nominal roll with the amount of pay that was due, he sat opposite me like you are; the parade was here. When each person came up, they saluted. I told the paymaster the amount of pay they were entitled to. He counted it out, passed it to them. They saluted again, made an about-turn and, and fell out of line.
The paymaster always carried a firearm. We traveled in a taxi. And that was a good day, always a good day, payday. We had two separate parades, one for the NCOs [Non-Commissioned Officers] and one for the other ranks, privates. Have a five-minute break in between. Almost everybody smoked in those days, so you had time for a cigarette.
I would do it for troops who were going, I would work until eleven o’clock at night if there was a draft going overseas. Because pay documents had to go with the draft. It was so bad for morale if the pay documents were lost. So I would work at whatever hours were required to make sure that everything was ready for the draft.
My thoughts are very strong about the fact that we were paid at first three-quarters of a male’s pay and eventually we got four-fifths. Working beside a man who would have more rank - doing the same job - more rank and more pay. And I might have more pay accounts, in fact, I did. But I still received less pay than a man. So we weren’t equal.