Veteran Stories:
Vivia Emily Stewart

Navy

  • Chief Petty Officer Vivia Stewart, during her service in HMS Brontosaurus, Castle Toward, Scotland, December 29, 1944.

    Vivia Stewart
  • Royal Canadian Navy Lieutenant John Stewart, Vivia's husband-to-be, in 1943. John and Vivia were married for 62 years.

    Vivia Stewart
  • Wedding photo from the marriage of Lieutenant John Stewart, Royal Canadian Navy and Chief Petty Officer Vivia Stewart, Women's Royal Naval Service, December 29, 1944.

    Vivia Stewart
  • Vivia Stewart (centre) and two Women's Royal Naval Service comrades, Dunoon, Scotland, 1943.

    Vivia Stewart
  • A letter to Vivia Stewart from the Civilian Repatriation Section of the Canadian Wives' Bureau in the United Kingdom, June 9, 1945. The letter informs Petty Officer Stewart that she will soon be discharged from the Women's Royal Naval Service and permitted to sail to Canada. Her and her husband, Lieutenant John Stewart of the Royal Canadian Navy, settled in Montreal, Quebec shortly thereafter.

    Vivia Stewart
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"I would take them out on parade and woe betide if they misbehaved. I was very strict. And then I’d have all the lads smirking away you know, and I would just glare at them."

Transcript

I was by the sea and I just liked the navy. Swansea [Wales] wasn’t far away and that’s where I went. I asked to be stationed in Wales but of course, they send you as far away as they can. And I went to Scotland, where I’d never been before. And I was there four and a half years and, really, they were a good four and a half years, I enjoyed them, even though it was the war. I enjoyed meeting people and enjoyed being in Scotland. I was stationed with Combined Operations in Greenock and in Loch Striven. I took the "Wrens" [WRNS, Women’s Royal Naval Service] out only because I was a good speaker and they all could hear me. That’s the only reason I was chosen. And I would take them out on parade and woe betide if they misbehaved. I was very strict. And then I’d have all the lads smirking away you know, and I would just glare at them and carry on doing what I had to do. I enjoyed it. I liked Scotland, the first time I was ever in Scotland, on the Clyde. And met some fine people there and had some happy times. Well, of course, sad times too because I’d meet people and then I’d never see them again. When we heard that someone, one of our friends who we knew had been killed, that always upset us. And we were always very sad for a while, and used to sing songs that he liked and that seemed to ease the pain a bit. And then we used to carry on. Well, I was married and then I, oh yes, looked forward to seeing John. And that was just wonderful, the reunion and being together. I met him in Greenock. He was in the [Royal] Canadian Navy, John. Yeah. I knew him four and a half years and we were married in 1944. It was a wonderful experience. It’s something not everyone gets. And I was privileged to be stationed and happy in Scotland and got on well in the Wrens. So I really have a lot to be thankful for. And I met my husband. So that made the icing on the cake.
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