Veteran Stories:
Barbara Dowd

Air Force

  • Barbara Dowd nee Black is introduced to the white hens that friend Sergent Low (right) "jokingly" refers to as the 'WD's' (Women's Division) at Comox, British Columbia in 1944.

  • Barbara Dowd nee Black (left) explores a fishing boat near Courtenay, British Columbia while enjoying some time off from Fighter Operations in 1944.

  • Barbara Dowd nee Black touches the Pacific Ocean for the first time upon being stationed in Patricia Bay, British Columbia in 1943.

  • Barbara Dowd nee Black (right) and Bertha Martin stand in front of Sir Ernest Petter's cottage, a place used as a holiday retreat for airwomen in Pat Bay, British Columbia in 1944

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"The whole idea of fighter operations, and the whole west coast, and all the changes of locality I found absolutely stimulating."

Transcript

I was, when I joined up, Barbara Black, and my number was W311777, Women's Division of the Air Force. I had been born on an Indian reservation in Northern Ontario, and had lived there until my mother insisted we move to Kirkland Lake so I could go to school at age six. And I lived there until I joined up. I had to go to North Bay to join up, and I was taken in. And I did my basic training at Rockcliffe Park airbase, and went into fighter operations, and was sent to Pat Bay in BC. Although I had been given the choice of where to go, I had wanted Halifax. I was the only one from our group to go to Pat Bay. And oh, did I love it! There was a lot for me to learn when I got to Pat Bay. The whole idea of fighter operations, and the whole west coast, and all the changes of locality I found absolutely stimulating. I guess I was very naïve, among other things. In our group at Pat Bay was a Pauleen Bruce, whose father was Nigel Bruce - a Hollywood actor. As a result of that, Lassie, Come Home was filmed in BC. Pauleen, who was a WD with me at Pat Bay, had a part in that movie.
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