Veteran Stories:
Lois Johnson

Army

  • An invitation Lois Johnson recieved to a garden party at Rideau Hall in 1943.

    Lois Johnson
  • Lois Johnson after her enlistment in 1942.

    Lois Johnson
  • Lois Johnson (first in line on the right ), stands for inspection by a Major General while posted in England.

    Lois Johnson
  • Lois Johnson (right), puts on a comedy skit with her fellow soldiers in Aldershot, United Kingdom.

    Lois Johnson
  • Lois Johnson's CWAC shoulder flash.

    Lois Johnson
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"Put on your old khaki bonnet with the maple leaf upon it, then we’ll hurry to the centre of the fray."

Transcript

Put on your old khaki bonnet with the maple leaf upon it, then we’ll hurry to the centre of the fray. And we’ll tell Adolf Hitler that his hopes are getting littler, now the CWACs are on their way. And when the war is over, we’ll come back to Major Dover with a million medals to display, and we’ll tell tall stories of the way we won our glories in an old CWAC home some day. We had lots of songs, but that was sort of our chief one. We had a whole lot, here comes a something… Britain, the CWACs are on their way, Britain would expect us any day, Churchill, you said you need the tools and watch us, and we’ll follow all the rules, and goes on. We had a lot of army songs. Now, the friends I had in the air force and the navy, they had none, but we had all kinds. I liked all the things we saw, like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben and all the scenery and all that. But it was the bomb business that really got to me. I come home sick, went right to Camp Hill [Military Hospital]. I was in Camp Hill for two years. I could hear the guns going when there wasn’t any going at all because we were right near Hyde Park with the ack-acks [anti-aircraft guns]; and I could hear them, like I’d be sitting here, I could hear them just as if they were … So I went really whacky. They would start 11:00, set your watch, it wouldn’t be over until about 5:00, all night. I just, I have, suffer a bit from claustrophobia, [being] down in the air raid shelters didn’t help any, and that bothered me. And then Hitler started with his V1s [German flying bomb] and V2s [German ballistic missile], and they were horrible. We used to call them pilotless planes, the British nicknamed them doodlebugs. They had a little red light and you could, the odd time, we weren’t supposed to open our blackouts, but if we heard one, we’d sneak and they’d go right along and then they’d tick, there’s a red light. Well, red light, they just went right down and crashed. And then the V2s, you couldn’t hear them at all. You could be anywhere and all of a sudden, you could be bombed. There was no sound or anything to them. I was working up at headquarters in the post office and we had to read all the letters, but so many letters and you had to read them; and if there was anything in them that they’re telling tales, where they were, if they were on a ship or things like that, we had to cut it out or blank them out. I liked it. It wasn’t really stressful, in a way, you felt kind of bad because you were reading everybody’s love letters. They had to parade them. When you parade them, you had to have two privates on each side and now the punished girl would be in the middle and they’d all have to go into the officer. All she’s supposed to do is give your name and number; and she knows what you’re there for, but this one, she had to tell her story all over again. These girls worked in the service corps and right back of our barracks, when we were at Lansdowne Park, there was a service corps garage; and the girls worked there too. They drove jeeps and trucks, and army trucks, and everything. They had a sitting room in there. Well, at night, the sergeants used to bring their girlfriends in and use the CWAC sitting room, and leave it looking like a mess. And so they got mad about cleaning up, so they just let it stay dirty. So this day, Captain Smith came up; and he was wild about the look of the place and he detailed [punished] each one. Some had to wash the windows, some had to do the tables, some had to do the floor and then this, I hate to tell you this but, God, it’s funny, I’d hate to have it on my record, this one’s supposed to do the toilets. Well, that put her right off of them. so after he left, they all argued: were they going to do it or weren’t they going to do it. So this one said, well, I suppose if Captain Smith is head of the piss pot cleaners, I might as well clean them, but when I do, I’ll flush his head down them; and the intercom was on all over the garage and everybody heard it. [laughs] So she got , of course, berated by her officer. Captain Davis had a sense of humour, so she just reprimanded her. But that ran around like crazy.
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