Veteran Stories:
Zona Davidson (née West)

Air Force

  • Zona and her comrades on parade at RCAF Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario, 1943.

    Zona Davidson
  • Zona and her comrades after RCAF band practice in Montreal, Quebec.

    Zona Davidson
  • Zona and her comrades in Montreal, Quebec.

    Zona Davidson
  • Photo of the RCAF Central Band taken in Ottawa, Ontario, 1943.

    Zona Davidson
  • Damaged photo taken at RCAF Rockcliffe, Ottawa, Ontario, in October, 1943.

    Zona Davidson
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"Well, it was, let’s say it was the best two years of my life. I was doing something I loved, playing music."

Transcript

I was in the first all girl military band [part of The Royal Canadian Air Force Central Band] in the world. A few months after, the army decided to get a girls’ band too. They got into the position where they couldn’t get people who could play, therefore, they took beginners and trained them. There is rules and regulations about what time you’ll get up and what time you’ll go to bed. And I was used to getting up around 8:00 am and staying up and reading until as late as 3:00 am. And that wasn’t allowed. We had to be on the parade ground at 8:00 am dressed, brass polished, the works. And then we reported and got our meals and then reported down to the band hut and practiced. And waited for more people. When I first got there, there was only five of us, which isn’t enough for a band. So we were marking time. Well, and Central Band was in the, there was a band hut and there was a whopping big room that Central Band, there still is a Central Band. At that time, it was 60 pieces of the best in North America. And I don’t know what the situation is now and I don’t know if they’re still in [RCAF Station] Rockcliffe [near Ottawa, Ontario] or not. I noticed a little article in the paper the other day when there was some beginning of parliament or something like that, these government things. Anyway, Central Band was there. And at the time that I knew them, there was 60 pieces and they were the best in North America. You have to pass trade tests before you get accepted. And then that’s all you do all day, practice or give concerts or be on parade. So obviously, you get pretty good. You can’t help it if you’re good, that’s all you do all day long. Marches are great but concert stuff, we were able to play pretty doggone nice music. And all kinds. Well, I was in heaven. I think most of the girls were. Five of them were married, their husbands were overseas. A couple more got married during the two years, 26 months that there was such a thing. But I don’t know, it was just … Well, it was, let’s say it was the best two years of my life. I was doing something I loved, playing music.
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