Veteran Stories:
Anne McNamara

Air Force

  • Anne McNamara, a dancer in costume for Air Force variety show, 1944

  • Howard McNamara, Anne's husband, in Air Force uniform, 1944

  • Anne McNamara in Air Force uniform, 1943

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"...Not like the Navy show or the Army show. They had to have great big theatres to put their shows on. But we could go into any station as long as they had a hall…"

Transcript

My name is Annie Harriet Goode McNamara. And I was in the Air Force in an Air Force Entertainment Unit. When I joined up, I went to Rockcliffe in Ottawa and when you filed to join, you have to submit the background and they found out that I had been a dancer in my past and the show was being produced at this time and it was called All Clear. They asked me if I would like to audition, which I did and I was accepted. And there was nine girls and we were dancers. We did a bit of everything, you know. And then the rest was the men and we had our own orchestra. We rehearsed at Rockcliffe until we were ready.

And then we took off and went to Washington for nine days or so. Where we were entertained by the senators and General [Henry H.] Arnold and, you know, a lot of dignitaries. And then we came home and started travelling from Ottawa, all through northern Quebec and right out as far as Goose Bay and Gander, Newfoundland. We travelled with our own scenery, our curtains, our lighting. The only person that didn't take part on the stage or in the orchestra, our electrician and our two officers. The rest of us all worked. The men in the orchestra did parts of the skits on the stage. They moved scenery. The girls unpacked and we were self-sufficient. We could go into any small facility. It would be cramped but we could play almost anywhere. Not like the Navy show or the Army show. They had to have great big theatres to put their shows on. But we could go into any station as long as they had a hall. We could just set it up. And we came back and we re-vamped the show, got ready and went overseas.

Overseas we went to England and we were more or less attached... we had to be attached to somebody, 'cause we were just a unit on our own. So we were attached to Number 6 Bomber Group. And we started out from there and we did all of England, Ireland - Northern Ireland, not southern - Scotland, Wales and came back to London. When we were in London of course, they were still sleeping in the Tubes [London Underground]. The buzz bombs [V-1 Flying Bomb] were still coming over. But it was still in blackouts of course; the war was still on so we had to learn how to get along in the dark. And then we went overseas after the war, after the fighting was finished, we were in Germany and we went to Hamburg and Kiel. They were bringing in the subs and these cities were just flattened. They were just like shells. We were in the Netherlands, Belgium. When we were in Holland, Queen Wilhelmina had come to our show. After we were presented to her and it was something that you really don't forget. We weren't in France. We just went to Paris on leave which was very nice. We were in five different countries while we were in Europe.

Then we came back and we disbanded and just waited to be sent home.

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