Veteran Stories:
Camillia Annett

Army

  • Camillia Annett (back row, 3rd from the right) poses with friends Jackie, Dot, Winnie, Margaret, Louise, Dorothy and Connie in Quebec City, Quebec, 1943.

    Camillia Annett
  • Royal Canadian Army Identification Card issued to Camillia Annett in Kitchener, Ontario on May 7, 1943.

    Camillia Annett
  • Camillia Annett poses with her sister Louise in 1942.

    Camillia Annett
  • Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC), No. 3 Company, Kitchener, Ontario in 1942. Camillia Annett is in the second row, 2nd from the right.

    Camillia Annett
  • Camillia Annett is pictured here standing in her winter uniform, 1943.

    Camillia Annett
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"The womens used to have to guard the gate at night and they would be out there all alone, but that time was so quiet. You know, you wasn’t scared. But like now, I wouldn’t do it."

Transcript

We decided we were going to start up our own army, get our own army and all this, and that. But then they didn’t go right with it. Well, you work in the day, and we’d go and train at night in a big building somewheres. But it was all French, no English at all. Then that didn’t go at all. We had gone to farms. They furnished a uniform, no, we paid for our uniform. We were the ones that brought in the women’s lib. It was that time that womens had no rights, we had nothing. It was all the men.

So then that didn’t go too well, so then anyway, they decided that they were going to do something else, but I can’t say for sure, but I know she did come over a few times, Mary Churchill [Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s daughter]. I guess everything was changed then. Then I came home and then I went back to Montreal, Quebec this time. I worked for a while in the ammunition factory they called it, where you make shells, caps for guns, and all things like that. Then I decided that I was going to quit the job and go, and sign up for the [Canadian Women’s Army Corps] army.

There was only one thing I didn’t like is we were getting up in the middle of the night and going to get a pail of coal and put it in the stove. You were all alone out there in the dark. We had a big, big field like, you know, and we had some beautiful platforms where we used to go and train on. Then we had a canteen of our own and we had some nice songs; and we’d get there in the evening after you were finished your work and that. The womens used to have to guard the gate at night and they would be out there all alone, but that time was so quiet. You know, you wasn’t scared. But like now, I wouldn’t do it.

Well, I knew him before he went overseas because we [were] kind of neighbours. I regretted because I said they wanted me to go to school, the army, you know what, you needed to go to school, finish my schooling and all that, and that’s what I should have done because I jumped from the pot into the fire or something like that, how you put it. Yeah, it wasn’t so easy, for sure. Yeah.

But I said I would know more too because we were the first ones. Everything didn’t go right because there was no women in the army that you could say oh yes, she said this and she told me that, and we could do this and we could do that. But we had to find out everything on our own. We worked ourselves into it. They called us ‘mattresses’ [women of ill repute] ̶ whole lot of the women. Even in the Afghanistan War here, they had a lot of trouble. You might have heard about it. But that’s what they really thought, oh, the womens is coming in, we’re going to have our good times, but they met their match. But they don’t say that, just not everybody was the same. Some did run out and all that. But not everybody, for sure, and they certainly calmed down.

We’d have set dances out in [Camp] Valcartier [Quebec], places like that, and we’d, they would take us out there by bus and with the air force. Never with the navy, we never had anything to do with the navy. But the air force and we’d go out for dances out there. But we always had a sergeant or a corporal, or somebody with us. You see, if they said to me today, you’d be a corporal, well, the girls [would] congratulate you. Yeah, there was no, anything to say well, why her, not me. It was always good. The officers knew what they were doing and they were making the laws, not us.

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