Veteran Stories:
Ruby Jeannette Foley

Army

  • Ruby Foley's Photo Collage. L-R: RCAF Badge; photo; newsclipping...

    Ruby Foley
  • Photo Collage: Myale and Ruby Foley on leave, 1944.

    Ruby Foley
  • Ruby Foley drinking beers with friends.

    Ruby Foley
  • Photo Collage: Ruby Foley returns home to British Columbia.

    Ruby Foley
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"We were concerned about the war. And we ended up enjoying every bit of our experience. Turned out so much better than we thought it might."

Transcript

Ruby Foley. I’m in Vernon. My brother was in the air force, he was air crew and he was overseas. And my sister joined up first. She joined in 1942. And she talked me into joining up, and we both went into the air force because we wanted to help get my brother out of where he was. We were concerned about him and concerned about the war. And we ended up enjoying every bit of our experience. Turned out so much better than we thought it might.

Our training at [CFB] Rockcliffe [Ontario] was basic training and that was just learning marching and first aid and all the other preliminary things. And then I went to Trenton [Ontario] where I took my accounting course. And then came back to Pat Bay [Patricia Bay, British Columbia]. That was my first posting and the only one I had until I went overseas, on Vancouver Island, it is exactly where the airport is over there now. The Japanese were over there, they shelled one place on Vancouver Island at one time, at the north of Vancouver Island. We had outposts all over. We had a lot of stations all around the island and on the mainland. And we did all the bookkeeping for them.

Before VJ Day [Victory over Japan Day], they asked for volunteers of all the girls that would join up to go to eastern stations and we all went down and took our inoculations and got ready, got all our papers ready. And then they dropped the bomb and the war was over. That’s when the boys over in England, threatening to create a commotion because they wanted to come home, and that’s when we girls got the chance to go over and close the stations.

We first went down to Ontario Station in Ontario. And we were there I think probably about a month or two months before we got shipped out. And the train that we were to go on, we thought we were going to sail from Halifax, so we thought we just had the train ride from St. Hubert to Halifax, but the train went across the border, down into the [United] States and picked up all these Italian prisoners of war. They were mostly Italian, but there were some Germans too. Train went back up into Canada, went to Halifax then, and unloaded all these prisoners on the ship. And we all stood there and watched them all get onboard the ship. And then they closed them down into their section, and then we were allowed to go onboard.

But it was quite exciting. They called us the ‘cooks tour’ because we came in late. And we mostly had a good time there. We went to shows, we used to the symphony concerts on Sundays at the Royal Albert Hall and sat way up in the top part and listened to the concerts. They were wonderful. We were able to get good seats there because we would just take, we were all given so many cigarettes, and I had never smoked and I never used cigarettes. And we used to take our packages of cigarettes, and you could go anywhere with cigarettes because we’d just take half a carton of cigarettes around to the back door of the Royal Albert Hall, and the ushers would take us up into the boxes, the box seats were where all the plush seats were. They’d wait until right the last minute to find out that there’s nobody going to use that box that night. And then they would take us up there and tell us, keep back, far back, so that nobody could see you and don’t talk. We were appreciated yes. And especially in France. I’ll never forget the experience there. We were so sad for the people there, but they were recovering, but they had had such a bad time.

While we were in England, the Canadian government used to send us care packages. And they sent, over at one time, they sent us oranges and each of us in the office got three oranges. And I gave one to an Irish girl who was working, she was a civilian working in the office. I gave her one and I had two left. And I went, when I left work, I was carrying these two oranges in my hand and there was a lady pushing a pram along with a baby in it and a little girl walking beside. And the little girl kept looking back at me and she said to her mom, “What’s she got?” And the mother said, “They’re oranges.” She said, “What’s an orange?” And I just walked up, when I went past the pram, I put the oranges in the pram and kept on walking.

The Service was really a great experience. I came out and I had my accounting and I had a comptometer course behind me. And I went in the office and I was secure in my job from then on.

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