"The house I was responsible for had 150 [soldiers] in it, and it was one of the larger ones. It was my job to keep things in order, discipline."
This A6 [Canadian] Engineering Training Centre [Camp Chilliwack, British Columbia] for shipping, going overseas for the men, that was where they took their training, bridge building and all that kind of stuff. The colonel who was in charge of the camp at the engineering training centre, he wasn’t very keen on the idea of having women in his camp. He was an old World War I soldier and he just wasn’t happy to think that women were going to take over his training centre. But he soon found out that he had to rely on the women to do these jobs because his A Category men were being sent overseas as replacements. And so he finally decided that, yes, he would accept women in camp.
The other training centre was for the infantry officers, that was closed down. I guess they were posted elsewhere. But, anyway, the day that we went over to the other camp, that same officer took me around the entire camp, walked me around the entire camp and introduced me to the staff sergeants and the sergeant majors; and he and I got along very well because he knew when he asked me for an opinion, that he’d get the one, not that he wanted to hear necessarily, but I’d tell him the truth whereas some of the other lower ranks would tell him what they thought he wanted to hear.
But, anyway, he was a very clever man. Where we were stationed in Holland was a place called Apeldoorn and the army had taken over, confiscated some of the homes that were inhabited by the Dutch people who were not true to their country [German collaborators]. The houses that we were billeted in, there was a supervisor for each one and because they varied in size, you couldn’t say that each house had 25 people in it. They were different sizes.
The house I was responsible for had 150 [soldiers] in it, and it was one of the larger ones. It was my job to keep things in order, discipline. And we then went to a different establishment for our meals and the sergeants’ mess that I was in, it’s where I met my husband, only he was a Canadian. We ate in the sergeants’ mess and that’s how I got to know him.
I used to say that being a sergeant major can be a lonely job because you are in authority, you have authority. But, on the other hand, I always said that you have to be, you can be judgmental, but you have to be fair. And, I guess, there are some people who are harder, well, I know, some people are harder to deal with than others, but by and large, I got along quite well with the girls. I don’t remember ever having any real problems.