Veteran Stories:
H. Beryl Vignale (née McPhee)

Air Force

  • H. Beryl Vignale (née McPhee) of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division (RCAF WD) at No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School, RCAF Mountain View, near Belleville, Ontario. 1943-1945.

    H. Beryl Vignale
  • H. Beryl Vignale (née McPhee), shortly after her enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division, 1943.

    H. Beryl Vignale
  • H. Beryl Vignale (née McPhee), at centre holding the ball, and comrades from the RCAF Mountain View women's basketball team, 1944.

    H. Beryl Vignale
  • H. Beryl Vignale (née McPhee) and her husband Ken Prentice on their wedding day, 5 October 1946. The marriage took place at RCAF Station Mountain View, near Belleville, Ontario.

    H. Beryl Vignale
  • "The old swimming hole": Servicewomen from RCAF Mountain View enjoy a break at the station pool in this excerpt from the station newsletter of August 1945. From left to right: LAW Bernice Winters; LAW Daphe McPhee (Beryl's twin sister); LAW H. Beryl McPhee; LAW Janet Downey; Cpl. Ella Muir.

    H. Beryl Vignale
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"We never talked ever. I don’t know of anyone who talked about their work."

Transcript

I was trained in Toronto at [No.] 2 KTS [Composite Training School], as a clerk general special. We had to pass a typing test and just all the air force procedures. My twin was the honour student of her graduating class - I can tell you because she isn’t here, she passed away 11 years ago this month - but that was really nice. But then we had asked for postings. I wanted to go out west and she wanted to stay in the Ontario area. And they posted us together, to [RCAF Station] Mountain View, Ontario, [No.] 6 B&G [Bombing and Gunnery School]. When we arrived at Mountain View, airwomen were allowed to go up on a familiarization flight. And it had to be approved by our section. And so, oh, I had a wonderful flight. It was in an Avro Anson. After the excitement of controlling the plane, you know, banking right, left, and everything, just having a wonderful time up there, I couldn’t wait for the next flight. But in the meantime, some girls in [RCAF Station] Centralia bailed out of an aircraft at night and they were unauthorized. So they cut off all air flights. That was the end of it. Mountain View was a wonderful station. Because of its isolation, across the Bay of Quinte from Belleville, we were isolated. I worked in GIS [Ground Instructor School] Air, well, in fact, both Daphne [her twin sister] and I worked there at one point. That must have been, maybe that was our first job, at GIS Air. Because I worked all over the station and I used to post people across Canada when they’d finish their training and post them for their courses. It was more or less a holding station for the BCATP [British Commonwealth Air Training Plan]. And lots of men were just there, just waiting to be transferred for their training. And I worked in Air Armament School and that was typing précis all day long, great big foolscap pages. We never talked ever. I don’t know of anyone who talked about their work. My friends were in all different places on the station, the control tower and everywhere. I haven’t got a clue in the world what they did. The only thing I know about, when I was at headquarters, like Air Armament School, it was typing all day long. At headquarters, then I gathered all the information for DROs, Daily Routine Orders. And I would type them up and run them through the Gestetner machine or the ditto machine [duplicator machines], whichever it was. We just looked forward to all our time off. Dancing was my, that’s what I loved to do.
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