Veteran Stories:
June Martin Redford


  • June Martin during her basic training with the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service, May 1944. As a "probie" she was not allowed to wear the necktie of the WREN uniform until she was finished her training

  • WRENs visiting injured Merchant Marines in Halifax. They handed out fruit and other goodies to the recuperating seamen.

  • June Martin (2nd row from bottom, 4th from left) and the first draft of cooks from HMCS York. May 8, 1944.

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"I was helping to cook for two thousand naval personnel, and then I was taken upstairs to cook for the officers."


My name now is June Redford. I was in the Navy during the war as a cook. I joined up as June Martin. My father was manager/superintendent of all of Sunnyside [Amusement Park]. We had a good bringing up, and my brother joined the Air Force – I had one in the Navy and one in the Army, and my sister was in Fort Worth, and I was the youngest and I went in the Navy. I joined up as a cook, which I always did like from public school, and I had my training at HMCS York, which was the automotive building at the [Canadian National] Exhibition. We were the first draft of women cooks that went there. We had training at York for six weeks, then I was transferred down to HMCS Montcalme, which is Quebec City, right on the Plains of Abraham. I had a really enjoyable time there. I was helping to cook for two thousand naval personnel, and then I was taken upstairs to cook for the officers. I was not even nineteen by this time. I was there until September, and then I came back to Toronto for more training. I was the youngest one at HMCS York for Christmas, so that meant I was Captain for the day, which was quite an experience, sitting at the head table and everything. From there, I went down to Cornwallis in… I believe it was April or so in the following year. There were a few other ones, but not for too long, but my main stay was in Cornwallis. I was there when the war was over. While there, we went to Halifax. We were going for the weekend, so they invited us to go to one of the hospitals and visit the Merchant Navy who were in the hospital, and hand out little ditty bags to them. It was an experience. I did cooking for anywhere up to four thousand people at Cornwallis. My main one was cleaning out chickens – I loved doing that. And making hot chocolate, which we called Kai. We made gallons of that for their midnight snack. From there, I came back to Toronto and had my discharge back in Toronto, but I was in for two years.
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