Inspection time at the RCAF Womens Division in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1944.Glennis (Boyle) Boyce
Portrait of Glennis Boyce. Photo taken on a street corner in Toronto, Ontario, between May and September 1943. The photograph cost Mrs. Boyce two dollars.Glennis Marie (Boyle) Boyce
RCAF Women Division Barracks, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1944-45.Glennis (Boyle) Boyce
Glennis Boyce (in the middle) and friends dressed for Snowball Dance in the Women Division's Recreation Hall, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mrs. Boyce is wearing her high school graduation dress. Many of the women rented sewing machines and sewed their own dresses in the barracks for the occasion.Glennis (Boyle) Boyce
Bracelet :Christmas Gift from Glennis Boyce's Brother, Leslie Boyle, who was on Army Service Overseas, December 1944.Glennis (Boyle) Boyce
"I tried to break it gently to my mother by telling her that I was thinking of joining the RCAF. At that time, I had already been sworn in."
My journey in the air force began when I noticed a recruitment advertisement in the Saint John paper. They were offering a stenographic course to anyone with a high school graduation certificate. Being a child of the Depression, my parents could not support me for any further education. I was working in a match factory assembly line and absolutely hated it. I tried to break it gently to my mother by telling her that I was thinking of joining the RCAF. At that time, I had already been sworn in. She kept on doing whatever she was doing and said they won’t take you, you’re too small. About three days later, I decided it was time to tell her the truth. She was not pleased and told me that I would have to tell my father because she wasn’t going to. He was so mad at me that I understood why she didn’t want to tell him. It hurt my feelings and I kind of avoided his eyes until it was time to leave. However, he accompanied me to the train station to see me off, and I felt better.
During my medical examination, the doctor asked me a routine question, I think – were you ever pregnant. I said I don’t know, what do you mean? He said, never mind, you never were. The weeks in basic training were lonely weeks and I did have a bout of homesickness. When we went to be outfitted in uniform, the disappointing thing was that there was no uniform small enough to fit me. I was five feet, 96 pounds. That meant that the flight that I took basic training with went off to their postings and I was left behind until they could get me dressed. The CO said, if we gave you a 72-hour pass, would you have anywhere to go? I did. Two of my growing up friends were in Montréal. During the war, a service police followed the train employee to get the tickets. Well, the question was, why aren’t you in uniform. After saying I didn’t have one, I pressed my face to the window, I was so embarrassed. Some time later they came back and said that they had wired [RCAF Station] Rockcliffe and that it was okay.
After getting a uniform, I joined class nine at the Central high school of commerce in Toronto, Ontario. I studied hard and graduated on September the 17th, 1943, as a clerk stenographer. I was just beginning to feel comfortable on the base when I got a posting to headquarters in Halifax. My bunkmate was posted overseas and I was a little envious because I had a brother in the army who was on duty in London.
There was no accommodation for the WDs [Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division] in Halifax, so we had to sleep in the navy depot and join the long lineups in restaurants for our meals. Halifax was very crowded during the war. The lines were always long and the streets were jammed with sailors. Eventually, the new barracks on South Street for girls working in headquarters was completed and that made life a little easier. The branch that I worked in was called Works and Bricks. I accepted the monotony of dictation and banging a typewriter. After all, it was what I joined up to do. The men that I worked with were great. The girls in our barrack room were together long enough to form close bonds and we had already by that time learned to accept communal living.
While at headquarters, I had sat for a couple of trade tests to become an LAW [Leading Aircraftwoman], with an increase in pay. Our rate of pay was somewhat lower than those authorized for airmen. I was not aware of this discrepancy until many years later.
I used to have no trouble asking the admin officer in Halifax for 48-hour passes on the weekends. I went home most of the time to see my parents and they were glad to get my sugar and butter coupons because they were rationed. I slept on the train all night Friday night and had Saturday and Sunday with my parents and then slept on the train Sunday night and to report to the office of work at 8:00 in the morning. And when I wasn’t going home on weekends, I often went down to the [Annapolis] valley to visit a relative who had an apple orchard and a small farm and I loved riding the horse. And that’s why I went, to breathe good fresh air and get out of the crowded city. Those were two things that I used to spend my spare time doing. And a lot of the girls in the barrack room that I was in were knitting and writing letters if we weren’t out and we used to have a bottle that was sitting on top of one of the lockers and every time one of us had a date, we had to put 10 cents in it. And we had one ex-teacher who never seemed to go out but she always kept track of that, of the rest of us, so that we couldn’t get out without putting our 10 cents in the bottle. And at the end of the month, we would use the money to buy cheese and crackers and soft drinks to have a little picnic on a blanket on the floor under the nightlight. Somebody tattled on us once and an officer and corporal came down the centre of our room but we sort of got wind of it and grabbed everything and ran and tucked ourselves into our bunk beds and they just went right on through.