Ruth Bergstrom (née Legg-Bagg)
Home Town: Lister, British Columbia Conflict: World War II Branch:
My work was classified. I was more or less attached to the cipher office.
Ruth Bergstrom joined the Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) in the summer of 1942 and was a member of the first group of CWAC to be trained at Vermilion, Alberta. She was posted to Ottawa, Ontario to Headquarters, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, in a clerical position. She served in various clerical positions in the Headquarters over the years and rose to the rank of staff sergeant in the classified message centre.
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I think they treated us pretty much like men, you know. They were polite, they were nice but they had loud-- the regimental sergeant major had a real voice on him. I remember him telling me-- I was out one day having drill and we were having precision and I was the marker, you know where you swing around? He told me I swung like a rusty gate. That hurt me really.
So I didn’t go through the, and my sister didn’t either, through the months training. I don’t know how long they had the clerical training, I know Helen Rapp did [Helen Rapp was also in the CWAC]. From there I went right to an office and it was the Signals, RC Signals [Royal Canadian Corps of Signals] Headquarters at National Defence Headquarters [Ottawa, Ontario] and I did clerical work. But it was different than ordinary office work because it was messages of all different types were coming in and I was in what was called the Acceptance and Delivery Section. We accepted messages and then had the, looked after the delivery and the filing of copies and that sort of thing. Quite a--it was quite a number of things that we had to do and I was at that. I became a sergeant [towards the end of her time in the CWAC]. I became a corporal soon after, about six months after I was in there.
What we did, we were taking over from the civil servants, as they were called then, and they had a choice about either join the CWAC or they would be transferred somewhere else. So some of them did join and some, of course, moved on. They didn’t want to join. So that’s--and that way I got my stripes early because I took over from the person that was in charge as a civil servant.
And I found it so interesting too. And we also, with the messages we took phone messages from different parts of Canada and the north and typed, listened in with earphones and typed out messages that way too. So, from then on I became in charge of the whole section and became a sergeant. I was a sergeant for several years and later on I got another promotion and became a staff sergeant and I was, I had a different job then. I became--my work was classified. I was more or less attached to the cipher office part of it.
Interview with Staff Sergeant Ruth Bergstrom FCWM Oral History Project
George Metcalf Archival Collection
© Canadian War Museum