Veteran Stories:
Mary Kearney

Navy

  • Probationers of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) at HMCS Conestoga, Galt, Ontario, May 1943, from left to rigth: Joan Grime, Mary MacDonald and Mary Dempsey.
    Credit: Lt Kenneth George Fosbery / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-153499.

    Credit: Lt Kenneth George Fosbery / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-153499
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"I come from a family that is military and we just want to give something back to our country that would help in the war effort."

Transcript

I’m Mary Kearney and I was in the WRCNS [Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service], went in in 1944. They said, you know, you’ve got so much to give to the service, why are you joining, why do you want to persevere and join? And I said, well, you know, I come from a family that is military and we just want to give something back to our country that would help in the war effort. So, I went in and I went into basic training in Galt [Ontario], that was [HMCS] Conestoga. I was transferred to Halifax [Nova Scotia] for disposal [discharge of naval personnel], would you believe. We didn’t know what disposal was all about. So, anyway, we got down there and I wasn’t the only one, there was a group of us; and it turned out that I went in the office and worked with the fellows coming in out of the, they had to go to [HMCS] Peregrine of course. This is where I was, in Peregrine, and they had to turn around and interview each one. So that was done and we just looked after our own WRCNS, our navy group. And it just, unfortunately, it happened that at the time there was a problem, when I got there, the, now how do I put this? I was supposed to look after everything, but there was problems with the, how would you say; Blacks. They accused the navy of something and before you know it, there was fighting going on and we had to bring our group in, quick like. So we went out and gathered our navy. There was definitely high tension. Anyway, from there, they said, well, you know, you talk about disposal, we’re sending you to Ottawa. So I went to Ottawa. Or we went to Ottawa. On Rideau Street, we had a convent that was actually turned over to the navy. What we did, being a regulator [naval policewoman], I knew exactly what to do because they outlined your work and you went and you helped out as much as you could. I was interviewed so many times and they were wondering why I came. And I said, well, you know, I come from a background of military and we just want to help. Instead of the men taking over, the women were taking over, especially Peregrine, where everybody was coming in off ship and we checked them. We had our own duties to do in other words, and it worked fine. Like I said, if I had to do it over again, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
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