Veteran Stories:
Joseph Quinn

Army

  • Joseph Quinn in Ottawa, Ontario, August 2012.

    Historica Canada
  • Joseph Quinn in Ottawa, Ontario, August 2012.

    Historica Canada
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"I really enjoyed it and then, I think it was around the 28th day of August, 1939, the phone rang. And they said, “Come to the armouries right away please and pick up your uniform. We need you.”"

Transcript

Well, I mean, I was just come out of high school and when we said, being we had, we were, just some training at school with the rifles and so on, so we thought, “Gee whiz, why don’t we just go and stay for the summer.” So what we did, we decided then to sign up on the, after school closed each year at the 28th of June [1937] and we went to Aldershot, Nova Scotia to the camp and we stayed there until September and we came back in time to go to school. So during that time we had good training and I suppose, we learnt a lot as young kids, discipline and so on. And we enjoyed it, so went on back the second year. And we learned how to do our clothes and ironing and all the normal procedures and what you could do and what you couldn’t do. So, I really enjoyed it and then, I think it was around the 28th day of August, 1939, the phone rang. And they said, “Come to the armouries right away please and pick up your uniform. We need you.” In Halifax [Nova Scotia], I think training started there and the doctors were really good and they’d take you in and said, “Now get dressed,” and go in the operating room with them and put a mask on us, to go over their shoulder, they tell you what they’re doing. And they didn’t tell you in medical terms, they told you in stuff we could understand. And then you got, whether you’d like it or not. A lot of guys fainted because the general surgery was pretty gruesome, but I guess I was one of the tougher ones. I didn’t faint. But then we learned how to, I suppose, anesthetic, we, with the ether and all this and we learned how to hold it, do that to the, well the doctor was doing it on the patients. And this, of course, you can’t do that today. But that was those days and things were much different. So I guess that’s where I got my training and going from, and then I went to work on the wards and I learned how to do this and that and I got pretty good with the needles, so I could take bloods and I could do anything. That’s how I learnt. I left Newfoundland and I went to Toronto [Ontario] and I took a course on far east diseases and also I worked in a lab at Queen’s Park, east block and we lived in, oh, God, what’s the name of that darn place? We had a, it was an old building, I remember, near Spadina [Avenue] on College [Street] and that’s where we lived and we had to go to, at Queen’s Park, and I was there for a couple of months or so. Then I got posted to Camp Borden [Ontario] and I went to Camp Borden and I became an instructor in Camp Borden. Then I got posted from there to, from Camp Borden to Debert, Nova Scotia. And I went to Debert, Nova Scotia, and I finally became the ward master at Debert, Nova Scotia. And then from Debert, Nova Scotia, I was posted to Halifax [Nova Scotia]. And they posted me, don’t ask me why, they posted me to the senior medical officer’s office as his right-hand man, I guess. And I said, “What the hell, I don’t know anything about this.” So anyway, I got, so they sent me, I went up to the HMCS Stad[acona], the naval hospital in Halifax and that’s where I looked after the boys and the girls coming home. And did that. And then to, but to Halifax from there and I got posted, then posted to Toronto, it was Toronto Military Hospital, and it was old Chorley Park and that’s how I was, then I became a ward master up there.
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