Kathleen Tait Ransom, on the far left, and friends in The Netherlands.Kathleen Tait Ransom
Kathleen Tait Ransom (known then as Kaye Tait), 24, in her hospital uniform, while stationed at No. 18 Canadian General Hospital in Colchester, England.Kathleen Tait Ransom
Lieutenant Nursing Sister Kathleen Tait Ransom (third from the left) on Christmas Day in 1943, at No. 18 Canadian General Hospital in Colchester, England.Kathleen Tait Ransom
Kathleen Tait Ransom (indicated by an arrow) standing in front of No. 10 General Hospital in Belgium with fellow members of the Royal Canadian Medical Corps, April, 1945. Kaye Tait was then sent to No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station in The Netherlands.Kathleen Tait Ransom
Kathleen Tait Ransom (right) with her friend Doctor Gilbert in England, 1944.Kathleen Tait Ransom
"One guy, they had to put maggots inside his stomach to eat out all the shrapnel, all the stuff that he got shot with. I always remember that guy."
I had three brothers in the [Royal Canadian] Air Force and everybody in the little town [Marysville, New Brunswick] was joining up; and my girlfriend that I trained with was joining up, so we both decided to go and join the army. After three years of nursing, I joined up in the army [Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps], the war was on then, and I joined up in 1943.
There were three girls and we never separated. Even when we went out with dates, we’d take, the three of us would go. Marg Middleton and uh, Thompson, her last name’s Thompson. One was from PEI and one was from Clinton, Ontario. We had good times; we had good leaves. We met a lady in England who looked after, we’d take food to her and we lived there with her, the old lady. And there was umpteen dozen men in and out of that house, day in and day out, when we were on leave. Little things like that come back to you.
We used to go to these great big hotels and I wasn’t used to anything that big. The boys used to take us there for a little drink, and the drinks were only a quarter. We’d sit there for an evening and have a few drinks; and we did a lot of dancing. Every Friday night in our unit [No. 18 Canadian General Hospital, RCAMC], we had a little dance party and everybody went. We always had a good time. One place where I was, I was called the dressing nurse. All I did all day was go up and down the hall with a big dressing tray and change dressings. That’s all I did, you know. It was interesting because you could see a difference day in and day out, how the patients were doing.
We gave penicillin to everybody. We’d load up a thing and just change the needles as we went along; and everybody had penicillin, I’m sure. We gave a lot of it, I know.
One guy, they had to put maggots inside his stomach to eat out all the shrapnel, all the stuff that he got shot with. I always remember that guy. We’d put them in every day and they’d eat out the debris, and the pus that was inside his abdomen through this shrapnel that he was shot with. Well, we had little forceps, pick them out and then dress him, put some more saline solution in and rinse it out. He didn’t seem to mind because he knew he was getting better. He lived, he lived.
V-E [Victory in Europe] Day [May 8, 1945], I was looking after German patients in Belgium. Oh, they had everything. You know, dehydration, they were sick men. I was guarded. There was guards around there; and the German patients were glad to get a bed and glad to get some food. They were nice to us, but I knew I was safe because they had guards there. That was only for about two or three days, and then they moved them on.
And then I was moved. After that, I went to Holland; and I loved Holland ̶ beautiful place. I was at a casualty clearing station [No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station, RCAMC] there, which was bringing in the troops from over on the continent; and we’d assess them and give them blood, and keep them if needed. Some of them didn’t make it and then they’d, we’d ship them back to England, to a general hospital. And some days, we used to have 100 to 200 patients go through. And then we’d get some leave and go on a little leave, and have some time off. I enjoyed that.
Because there was no repetition, every day, we were doing something different. The patients would come and go; and we’d send them to a hospital and then we went back. Some of the patients we tried to find that we liked, to see how they were doing. We found a few when we went back. We used to take leave and go back once in a while, and see how things were going.
Well, I came home in March 1946. We came home on a boat with war brides; we looked after war brides. Looked after the children on the [RMS] Aquitania, a big boat.
I came back a different person. Well, I saw so much destruction and houses torn down, and the buzz bombs [Vergeltungswaffe-1: German flying bomb]; and everything was… I came back to Canada, it looked like a million dollars. Well, I was glad I was over there when my brother was killed and like, I went to his funeral, picked up his belongings and different little things like that come across once in a while. And the good friends you make. And you fall in love and you fall out of love. But it was all good times.