Veteran Stories:
Glenna Stenning

Army

  • Glenna Stenning in London, Ontario, June 2012.

    Historica Canada
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"The only thing that bothers me is us older people trying to glamorize war for the young people and get them interested so they’ll be glad to go to war. That would really bother me because there’s nothing glamorous about war."

Transcript

And after a couple of years I got bored with that, so I decided I’d join the army [Canadian Women’s Army Corps]. And they had all these posters up, “Be this, be that.” You could be a librarian, you could be this, you could be that. And I thought, I was crazy about books and I thought, “Well I’ll be a librarian and I’ll be able to sit and read all day.” But anyway, I took myself up to Wolseley Barracks [London, Ontario]. Well actually it was August of ’42 but it was February of ’43 before they called me. And I plastered my face with that old pancake makeup and piled my hair on top of my head and used mascara and eye makeup. Nice girls in Woodstock [Ontario] didn’t use eye makeup in those days but I did because I wanted to look old. Actually I looked like a real tart. Anyway they called me in February and I went up and had my interview and I had to lie of course and I told them I was 18. And I said that my mother had sent for my birth certificate but it hadn’t arrived. And the girl that was doing the paperwork, she turned to her friend and she said, “You know I am too happy today to make trouble for anybody.” And then she told me her boyfriend was a pilot in the air force and he was coming home on leave. So she signed me in. She just put a tick mark where it said birth certificate. See how easy it was? And then the 3rd of March I went for basic training to Kitchener [Ontario]. This was the first job I had when I went out there, sorting the mail and delivering it and that was to acquaint new girls with all the offices and the people. Oh funny things happened, like I was teaching this new girl the mail run and she was the same age as me. We were both just kids. We went in the adjutant’s [officer who assists a senior officer] office and he was a very stern man and a little black moustache, very handsome, but very stern. Never smiled. And we called him Beady Eyes. We had names for all the officers and he was Beady Eyes. And we went in the office and Marg Parr, his secretary was there. We didn’t see him. And Norma said, “Where’s old Beady Eyes this morning Margaret?” And he stepped out of the closet and he said, “Here I am girls.” We made a dash for the door and we collided because we were in such a hurry to get out of there and dropped all our mail. It was a good life and we had opportunities. I had opportunities that my civilian girlfriends never had. For instance we went over to the [United] States a lot. I did anyway. Myself and my friends went over to States a lot and the Americans are wonderful people to us. They treated us like visiting royalty. Yeah, they were really good. Like we could stay at the USO [United Service Organization, a non-profit organization that provides services and entertainment for troops] over there and when we went into restaurants, there was always people wanted to buy us drinks and buy us dinner. Oh it was great. And then we had another deal where – you had to just do this on furlough – but there was an airfield called Romulus Field near Detroit and say you had a furlough, a couple of weeks, you wanted to go to Los Angeles [California] or San Francisco [California], places like that, you just go out to this airfield and hitch a ride on one of the planes. And all it cost us was $3 to check the parachute. That was to pay for the repacking of the parachute. The only thing that bothers me is us older people trying to glamorize war for the young people and get them interested so they’ll be glad to go to war. That would really bother me because there’s nothing glamorous about war.
Follow us