Veteran Stories:
Shirley Ridalls

Army

  • Left to right: Canadian Forces Decoration with bar; Commemorative medal from the Netherlands celebrating the 60th anniversary of liberation from Nazi occupation. The medal reads: Thank you Canada and Allied Forces.

    Shirley Ridalls
  • Ms. Ridalls visited the Memory Project Roadshow in Vancouver on December 5, 2005.

    Shirley Ridalls
  • This photo shows the uniform that Nursing Sisters wore while they worked in hospitals in England.

    Shirley Ridalls
  • This photo shows the uniform that Nursing Sisters wore while they were overseas in field hospitals near conflict areas.

    Shirley Ridalls
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My name is Shirley Riddalls. I am a retired nurse, so when I joined I became a Nursing Sister – a Second Lieutenant Nursing Sister – and I joined in 1956 in Ponoka, Alberta, and I retired in 1982. I am in proud possession of a Canada Decoration for my twenty-five years of service in the militia.

When I joined, I joined the 22 Medical Company in Ponoka, and then I came to the lower Fraser Valley and I joined the 24 Medical Company. One time when I was in Wainwright in training, the British Infantry were there, and they became our wounded in operations, and one time to make camp, we had to show a demonstration of how to cut down trees and I had to do a demonstration of that for some of our city-type medical aids.

Also I have many memories when I think of the tour to Holland in 2005, which gave me the greatest sense of appreciation of being a Canadian and a veteran of the militia. It certainly demonstrated how we are thought of in Holland. The tour had its own parade in a town called (?). There, a man approached me from the crowd, shook my hand and thanked me profusely for being there. Then he took my face in his hands and asked if he could kiss me. I did not hesitate, and he kissed me on each cheek. What an honour! I was privileged to speak at their radio station on the importance of keeping this exchange, if you would like to call it that, so that particularly our Canadian children would learn more and whatever they learn, not to forget.

At our big parade, a veteran asked a young boy to pick up the flowers he had just placed at a headstone – he did. The veteran asked him to face the camera. He did, and smiled, making instantly the connection that that was extremely important to we Canadians. In the parade Appeldorn, a young boy was handing out slips of paper that just said "Thank You." It spoke volumes, and I was close to tears. I shall always be thankful and treasure my militia service, for the camaraderie, the life experiences it offered, and the lessons in life to be learned. I hope our young people could visit Holland to try and understand our Armed Forces dedication and sacrifice then and now. It is demonstrated in our forty-five thousand headstones.

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