Alice and her friend "Timmie" in front of Currie Barracks - 48B- in Calgary, Alberta, 1944.Alice Samuel
Alice Samuel's Discharge Certificate, November 7, 1945.Alice Samuel
Portrait of Alice Samuel, Winter 1943.Alice Samuel
Alice Samuel with the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Dr. Lynda Haverstock, August 2006.Alice Samuel
Training Unit in Vermilion, December 17, 1943.Alice Samuel
"There was nothing around here. I mean, all the boys were gone, they joined up and I had five brothers in the army. So I wanted to go too, so I did."
I joined the army when I was single, so my name was Alice Petit. And I joined the army in Regina. There was nothing around here. I mean, all the boys were gone, they joined up and I had five brothers in the army. So I wanted to go too, so I did.
I wanted to be a, I feel stupid when I say this, like a driver more or less. But I wasn’t tall enough, and because you had to be over five feet and I was only five feet. But I think I was just about five foot one. Well, no, you had to be a mechanic too. If you were a driver, you had to know how your machine worked. So you had to do all kinds of things there. But I was too young and not tall enough.
I remembered I met this older lady, she was a company sergeant major there. And she was so very good to me, she was always looking after me, and then I got the job where she was working, she was working in the orderly room. And she got me put in there because at the time, I was a runner and then when we went to Calgary, well, that’s when I got into the orderly room and that’s where I stayed until I come out.
When I was in Calgary, well, I lived in the camp, in the barracks there. I mean, there was lots of girls living in one barrack, we’d be maybe a hundred of us in one barrack. And there were four to a cubicle, four of us to a cubicle. We slept in bunk beds and two bunk beds and we had our own, I don’t know what you’d call them, but someplace to hang our clothes and someplace, kind of a big box where you’d put your shoes and all that stuff in. It was always nice and clean. They had women there to clean the place up, so all you had to do was fix your bed when you got up and then the rest, all they did.
But when you got up in the morning, you went and exercised first. I forget what time it was, 6:30 I think. You had your shorts on and your little sweatshirt and away you’d go, exercise for about a half hour, and then from there you’d come to the mess hall and had your breakfast. And then from there, you’d go back home and dress up and stuff, then go back to work.
Mostly all the time, you’re shining everything, like your buttons and everything at night, because there’s a little too much to do in the morning. I liked it very much. And I liked the girls I was with. We more or less chummed around together all the time anyway. I had never went out with a soldier, I don’t know. So I don’t know what they’d be like because I’d heard they liked to run around with women and all that stuff. But I mean, I never went out with them because I was young and I wasn’t going to be bothered with anybody that, going to try and get me for this and that. So I would never go out with anybody. They could date if they wanted to. No, I wasn’t brave enough because I was more or less scared. Because I had heard soldiers were bad too. It wouldn’t be only the women; some of the soldiers. That’s how come I never, never tried to go out with them. Like once I was a corporal, I could go and like they had bars in the compound. And you could go there, as long as you had your stripes. And I went there once., That was my initiation, I went there with the girls that I worked with. We went there at night. And I never went there again. Not that anybody bothered us, nobody bothered us, but that just wasn’t the place for me. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to go in the first place, but just to please them, I went. But that was it.
Because I mean, I had a good life there. And I can’t say otherwise. I mean, I liked it there and I missed it when I come home. And well, after you get used to it, and I got married and had kids and you kind of forget about that after a while.