"At the time, to me, it was a dare. I kind of like to try things and sometimes it just needs that little something from somebody else to hold my nose and jump in head first…"
My name is Audrey Stevens, neé Lucas. I was a member of the CWAC - Canadian Women's Army Corps. I joined the forces in 1942, two days before my eighteenth birthday. So I was pretty young back then.
Friends and I were walking down the street this particular evening and we saw a girl in uniform and, you know how you just sort of throw words out, as it were, I said, "She looks nice. I wouldn't mind being involved in that." And one of my friends said, "Oh, you would not." And I said, "Yeah. I think that might be kind of interesting. I think I'd like to do that." And she said, "Oh, I dare you to do it." So I did.
I sent in an application and I got back the information I needed and filled it in, got a reply back asking me to come in for interviews. I went down there and was interviewed and had a medical and then was sent back home. And then later on got a telegram in my stuff to the effect that I was to report there for enlistment on the 27th of June.
At the time, to me, it was a dare. I kind of like to try things and sometimes it just needs that little something from somebody else to hold my nose and jump in head first. I did got in there with that impetus of being a dare, but at the same time it was an opportunity to get out and see the world. We grew up in a small town. My future looked pretty "blah" and I wanted more to my life than that. And, at that time, when they were just starting to allow women to go into forces, it seemed to me that that would be a good opportunity to go a different way. And, if in going that different way I could be of service to my country, then I was all for it. Not only do I get an opportunity to branch out, but at the same time, I'm also doing something worthwhile.
And you know something? I wish there was something like that nowadays. Now, I don't want a war, but I wish that the teenagers of this time could go out into the world and be responsible for themselves but with the support that you have as I did in the Armed Forces. I left home, so I'm away from my parents, but at the same time I'm not flying loose. I'm out there, but I've also... involved, I have to follow rules, but I don't have to worry about where I'm going to sleep. I don't have to worry about what I'm going to do. I don't have to worry about what I'm going to wear. Everything is taken care of in that basic sense. But, at the same time, you are responsible for yourself. You are responsible to be where you're supposed to be at a certain time. You are responsible to be able to follow orders. You are responsible to be able to - and this sort of comes with the time you're there - to learn to live with other people. And to me, I think that was one of the biggest pluses there were to being a member of the Armed Forces. And I think it works the same for both women and men. But at the time that women went into the Armed Forces, it was not an easy thing to happen. There was a lot of men, and I suppose other women as well, who objected. They did not think that this was a place for women. And I guess, in that day and age, it wasn't. I mean, women's place was in the home. They were supposed to cook and clean and bring up kids. They weren't supposed to be out working and particularly with men. Ooh. But at that time, the war in Europe was not going very good and they were getting short of fighting manpower. And those in command realized that there was a lot of women out there and there were a lot of men involved in work that women could do. Office work, cooks, you know, all that sort of good stuff. And they decided to open it up and say, "Come on. Let's take advantage of this."