Julia Boyd wearing an oversized flightsuit in front of a Harvard training aircraft.Julia Boyd
Julia Boyd (front row, second from right) sitting with other members of the Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Divison.Julia Boyd
Julia Boyd in the cockpit shortly before flying as a passenger on a Harvard training aircraft.Julia Boyd
Bomb damage inflicted on buildings near Harrods department store in London, England, 1944.Julia Boyd
Julia Boyd demonstrating the flightsuit worn by pilots and passengers of the Harvard training aircraft.Julia Boyd
"At our place there was a window, we could see the bombing and air raids and big bertha [large guns], all those things were quite noisy and quite frequent at that."
I was just a girl that was working. In a factory. I was trained for office work but didn’t like it. So I was walking along the street at noon hour and I saw a sign, with the Air Force thing. I thought I would investigate. So I went down at noon hour and it was 8:00 at night by the time I got out. They had to question me, examine me and they told me to report to Havergal College [in Toronto] in two weeks, which I did.
Well, I learned a lot there. How to march, how to do anything. About a month later, we went to Aylmer #14 [Service Flying Training School], that’s where I went first. Went there and first we got the, I was sort of a postmaster, I just took letters and everything around the place. Then I got promoted and got the job in first flight, taking care of the books, making sure students and instructors signed their name. Because if they didn’t, there was trouble. And if somebody came and checked the books, you knew something had happened. I only had one fatality there and he was a big tall guy with the name of Little John. That’s why I remember him. He was an Australian.
Well, I joined in1942, January, and I was there until Spring of 1943, I was posted to overseas. But in the meantime, I did my job and got along with everybody and they used to take me out for weather flights in the morning. But I did go for a ride in a plane.
When I went to, we were posted to England, we went to Ottawa first, worked three weeks nightshift with the records. And then we went to Halifax [Nova Scotia] for another three weeks to finish the records and we finished the records at 11:00 at night. We went to the ship and I was going out with the flagship stairs and we got on it.
A friend who was an instructor at Aylmer came down, he was the duty officer. And he came down to help me. And this English voice [shouted], ‘if she can’t carry her luggage she can turn around and go back’. And so we went and then we were allowed to stay out on the deck all the time and we couldn’t go to our cabins. We went down to the Canary Islands and back, one of the girls was badly [sun] burned. And then, by the way, there was 15 of us. And then we got to Liverpool [England], where there was a car waiting to take us to London. We went to London, there was an air raid on at that time. I don’t know where we slept that night but somewhere. The next day, they told us to find a place to live. Belle [a friend] and I, well, we found a place that we must have been given the addresses. We had this room and it was one bedroom with a double bed in it and nice sofa chair and two burners in the back, one for heat and one for cooking. And that’s where we lived the whole time we were there.
At our place there was a window, we could see the bombing and air raids and big bertha [large guns], all those things were quite noisy and quite frequent at that. One night, there was a lot of bombing going on and we walked the streets. I never was in a shelter but the subways were crowded with people sleeping there at nighttime. Art [her husband Arthur] came back from Africa in the Fall of 1944 and the order was through from above that all WD’s [Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division] married would be discharged. Art went on leave for a couple of weeks and we went back to Liverpool and took the Queen Mary [a famous British ocean liner] home. The Queen Mary was full of English brides. I was the only WD onboard.
We went back to Ottawa, came to Boston [Massachusetts], took a train to Ottawa. And where Art was posted to join the Defense Department there for a few months and then he was posted to Trenton and he went to Sea Island. And I was discharged January 1945, almost three years in service. August 15th, 1945 [the day it was announced Japan intended to surrender, ending the Second World War], I went into the hospital to have Bonnie [her daughter]. And you couldn’t get a taxi anywhere and so I took a streetcar and I was stuffed in the door between a pack of people. I went to the hospital but I didn’t have Bonnie that day, I had her the next day. That’s what I remember of the end of the war, no big deal.