Veteran Stories:
Thomas Charles McConaghy

Army

  • England, 1944 or 45. From left to right, Private Wercholaz, Sergeant Tom McConaghy and Lance Corporal Wally Schneider.

    Tom McConaghy
  • Thomas McConaghy standing in front of the truck he drove, near Woking, England in 1944.

    Thomas McConaghy
  • Thomas McConaghy's mother took this photo of him in March, 1943 on the family farm in Westlock, Alberta, while Thomas was on embarkation leave.

    Thomas McConaghy
  • Thomas Charles McConaghy and Freda L.P. Shrimpton were married at St. Peter's Church on June 8, 1946 in Sussex, England. The wedding gown and mauve taffeta bridesmaids' dresses were made in England with material sent from Alberta by Thomas' mother and sister.

    Thomas and Freda McConaghy
  • Thomas and Freda McConaghy cutting the wedding cake. The ingredients for the cake were sent from Thomas' mother in Canada. Each of the the three tiers were fruit cake, something England had not seen for many years.

    Thomas and Freda McConaghy
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"It was our job to meet the girls at the railroad station, put their baggage on a truck, and put them on a bus and they went to a hostel and they stayed there until the boat was ready to sail."

Transcript

I went over on the [SS] Île de France boat and it was a fast boat, so we didn’t have any convoy with us, we went by ourselves. And of course, they zig-zagged every few seconds all the way across. So if a submarine got a sight on you, they couldn’t hit you with their torpedoes. One night, during the night, they must have sighted something because they swerved a really severe swerve and knocked most of us out of our bunks during the night. So they must have saw something that was going on. When I went overseas, we had to take our basic training over again because there was, at that time, there wasn’t a lot going on overseas. So I took my basic training over again and it was in May and June, which it was really hot weather, and my feet started to bother me, so they sent me into the MO [Medical Officer] and he categoried me to an L4. And an L4 automatically went back home. And then I got it raised up to an L3, which I was able to stay in England then. So then I was transferred into the Service Corps. When I got into the Service Corps, I had a driver’s license, so they gave me a truck to drive. So that’s what I did for several years and just driving around England, hauling equipment and services. When I was driving a truck, the army had a stipulation, if you have three accidents, regardless of whether it’s your fault or not, you lost your license. So that’s what happened to me. I had three accidents, which none of them were my fault but still, I had to give up my driver’s license. So then they put me in the guardroom and I was a guard in the regimental police for two years. And I finally got up to be sergeant of the guardroom. Any prisoners come in, we had to make sure they were all properly dressed to go up in front of the CO the following morning for their punishment or whatever it happened to be. They were our own boys. Well, I joined up in 1942 and went overseas in 1943 and worked there until 1947. I later on changed my jobs to go, I was on the repatriation corps and I had a job of sending war brides home. It was our job to meet the girls at the railroad station, put their baggage on a truck, and put them on a bus and they went to a hostel and they stayed there until the boat was ready to sail. I had to be at a station in London and meet the girls there, put their baggage on a truck, and put them on a bus and send them to a hostel. I married one of them and she was, they kept putting her on the draft to go back to Canada and so I kept taking her off and waiting until I was ready to go. Went to a dance and met her there, and I guess it what you’d call love at first sight because I fell in love with her right there on the dance floor. Eventually they said, well here, the last boat has been going, and they said, if you don’t get your wife on this boat, she’ll have to go civilian passage. So I let her go on the boat and right after she left, they decided they still had too many girls to make up this one boat, they had to make up another boatload. So I had to stay for a month before I could get back to Canada.
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