Veteran Stories:
Claudine Kovac

Air Force

  • Claudine Kovac's enlistment photo when she entered with RCAF Women's Division. Claudine worked in the rivetting department of Canada Car, starting as a rivet chaser and ended up instructing.

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"Then I was posted to No. 16 SFTS Hagarsville, of all the desolate places I could have gone, but I guess I could have done worse."


My name is Claudine Kovac. I joined the RCAF WD in 1943, and I was discharged in October of '46. I worked in the munitions factory in the Canada Car here in Thunder Bay before I joined up. I worked as a riveter. The men were disappearing so they asked me to teach riveting in the school, and I taught it in the vocational school. I just couldn't hack it because I was only seventeen and three-quarter years of age! I couldn't stand the strain and the stress of going to work and working from eight in the morning until eight at night, but my husband, Peter Kovac, joined the navy. I missed him, so I joined the Air Force. I was told to go to Rockcliffe Training Centre. Posted then to an administrative post in Toronto, where we were all put on Jarvis Street in a school for the deaf. I spent eight weeks learning how to do the RCAF manual of administration. Then I was posted to No. 16 SFTS Hagarsville, of all the desolate places I could have gone, but I guess I could have done worse. I was there for two years, and then I was posted back to Ottawa, put on an island in the Ottawa River in the old Eddie Match factory. They had miles and miles of green filing cases in the basement there, and I was in charge of those files for a year and a half, and I thought I'd never get out of there. But one day the group captain – his name was Group Captain Carpenter – came down with two other officers, and he said, "You now have a new job. You are going to be working with the Officer Selection Committee to retain officers that have been discharged in the RCAF, but they won't stay in the permanent force." So therefore I was transferred over to the Elgin Building in Ottawa, and worked with one officer from each province, and there was only nine that at that time because the tenth province, Newfoundland, wasn't in the confederation. My job was to go back to where I had worked in the Eddie Match factory every two days and bring an armful of files over for consideration by the Officer Selection Committee. I worked on that committee four months. That's how long it took to select the officers for the permanent force. Then I was transferred to Jericho Beach in Vancouver, and that's where I was discharged. Then I came back to Thunder Bay and got married to my childhood sweetheart in 1946.
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