Veteran Stories:
Bessie Roy (née Forrest)

Army

  • Bessie Roy in London, Ontario, July 12, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"I’ve always had a spirit of adventure, I think. I was the youngest of eight children; and I think I was desperate to get away and be myself."

Transcript

The war had started. I’ve always had a spirit of adventure, I think. I was the youngest of eight children; and I think I was desperate to get away and be myself. I had turkey for the very first time in my life in the army [Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS)], turkey at Christmas. I never had turkey when I was growing up. I remember that Christmas dinner. I could see myself sitting at that table and thinking, isn’t this wonderful. Never had turkey in my life; and no, there was nothing wrong with the food. In fact, I needed a new uniform after about a few months. We all did, you put on weight. No, they fed us quite well actually. We were all war brides. We came on the [RMS] Queen Mary. Some of us had children, some didn’t. I remember that very well, she [her daughter] had, pardon me, but she had diarrhea, poor little thing, the whole trip. It was awful. Throwing up at this end and the other end, it was awful. She just didn’t adjust to the, you know, it wasn’t an easy trip. I mean, they did their best, but. We were sleeping in bunks, one on top of the other and the babies in cots and… Oh well. To start with, we lived with my mother-in-law and bless her heart, I mean, she had me, and my husband’s older brother had also married an English girl; and she had us all descending on her. I mean, she was just wonderful to us and you know, just descending and only had a small house, but she made us very welcome and was good to us. I loved my mother-in-law; she was a nice lady. So I didn’t find that much of an adjustment really. Canadians and English people, I think, are very similar. I think there’d have been a bigger adjustment had I married an American ̶ perish the thought. But I think that would have been a bit… But Canadians, they’re very similar to British people.
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