Veteran Stories:
Annie Mary Gillies Hokonson

Army

  • Sgt. Annie Mary Gillies in Belgium in 1945 in the uniform of the Canadian Women's Army Corps.

  • Mrs. Hokonson's original boots issued in 1945 when she arrived in Aldershot, England.

  • Annie Mary Gillies (right) and her friend Aileen King dressed in Dutch costume for a photo in Volendam, Holland. 1945.

  • In 1945, the Vancouver Sun published this photo of (left to right) Sgt. Mary Gillies, Staff Sgt. Aileen King and Staff Sgt. Jean Sutherland, all from Vancouver and serving in Holland.

  • Annie Mary Gillies' service book that contains the details of her military career. Mrs. Hokonson enlisted at Vancouver on August 7, 1942 and worked as a waitress before she joined the CWAC.

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"I thought to myself after spending twenty-one days on that water, I don't want it to be bombed before I get off this ship, so it was quite a relief to get on a train."

Transcript

My name is Mary Hokonson. I joined the Canadian Women's Army Corps in 1942. I started my Army career as a waitress in the Officer's Mess in Vancouver Barracks. From there, I went on basic training. Then I returned to Vancouver and continued on as a waitress in the Officer's Mess. In 1943, I was selected to go to St. Anne de Bellevue for NCO training. On my return to Vancouver, I went to work in the orderly room in Vancouver Barracks. I then proceeded to what we called 'The Priory ', which was another barracks in Vancouver. From there, I was sent to Chilliwack, to the engineer camp, and I was there for two years. From there, I was advised on my twenty-first birthday that if I wanted to go where I wanted to go, to be back in camp by midnight. In those days, we weren't allowed to say on the phone where we were going. I returned to camp in Chilliwack that night, and was advised I was going to be going overseas. We boarded the ship in Halifax, and it took twenty-one days in convoy to arrive in England. We were evidently the first troop ship to go through the English Channel, and we docked in London, which was being bombed at the time, and I thought to myself after spending twenty-one days on that water, I don't want it to be bombed before I get off this ship, so it was quite a relief to get on a train and head for Aldershot, where we were stationed until we got our postings to various companies in England, and I was sent to London to 50 Company. We were moved on to another company and we were sent over to Holland. Then I got posted from Holland to Germany. I was in Germany for approximately one month before we were all being sent home. It was rather sad to know that we were all being separated and that we wouldn't see some of the friends that we had made.
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