Veteran Stories:
Helen McLean

Air Force

  • Helen McLean with the Dartmouth Badminton Players on a night when they played the EAC, Halifax. 1946. Helen is at far right of front row.

  • A farewell party for Helen and colleagues Lois and Anne from the Accounts Section of the RCAF, Dartmouth. Each was given a silver compact. 1946

  • The Clerk Accountants of the Accounts Section, RCAF Dartmouth. Helen is on the far left. 1946

  • Photo inset from a newspaper article describing the jobs that the women of the RCAF were still performing after the war ended. The RCAF WD's continued to work after the CWAC's and WREN's were disbanded but by 1946, all WDs returned to civilian life.

  • Newspaper article "W.D.'s Still Carry On Important Tasks In Operation Of Air Force," with Helen and colleagues posing for the accompanying photo.

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"At that time, married women weren't supposed to work. More freedom for girls in the workforce now."

Transcript

My name at the time was Helen Cameron, and I was in the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force], WD [Women's Division]. We were in Saskatoon, which was a service flying station, and then I was posted to Dartmouth. In the beginning we were in holding stations in Montreal. And we got to Dartmouth, and it was about the time that people were being discharged, and a lot were coming back from overseas. There was a lot of work at that particular time. I went in in '44 and out in '46, so it was drawing to a close, except for Hiroshima. And we were also there at the time of the explosion in Halifax. I know that we were supposed to stay outdoors, even though it was a little bit away from us. It was some of the sailors coming back and rioting in Halifax. At that time, married women weren't supposed to work. More freedom for girls in the workforce now. My first experience when we got to Montreal - the wireless school was closing down, and we were just sort of put there to do odd jobs until we got more posting. I can remember what I said when we were enlisting - was that so we would understand the people that came back better. But I don't think I'd say that now. Well, actually, I think it was a good life. I suppose you could choose what you wanted to do. I can remember even going to Dal [Dalhousie University] to take a course with two or three others in English Literature. So, it was not spectacular, but it was an interesting time.
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