"There were fourteen of us that went, and although I was the youngest one of all, I was put in charge of the group and was responsible for their actions, or non-actions, as the case may be."
My name is Jean Carroll. I was with St. John Ambulance for fifty-one years. I enjoyed every minute of it. When I was eighteen, I was asked if I would be interested in going overseas. I knew at that time that you had to be twenty and so I waited another year, and they did some finagling with the figures, and I got on the ship – the SS Cavina. It was a banana boat that ran from the Bahamas up to Canada. There were fourteen of us that went, and although I was the youngest one of all, I was put in charge of the group and was responsible for their actions, or non-actions, as the case may be.
We got on the boat, and I was seasick before I left port, and I was seasick for ten of the fourteen days that it took for us to go over during the war time. We got to England, and it was the coldest winter that they had ever had in London, and the davits on the ship were frozen and they couldn't get our luggage out. After a while, they were able to do that, and we were taken to our headquarters in London, and introduced to the people that were there.
We spent a week in London. Very, very cold, and very, very dark at night, because everything was blackout. Then we were taken up to Scotland, and we were taken to a former mental hospital in Bangor, outside of Edinburgh. It was a huge area. It was three miles square (not three square miles, but three miles square). We were assigned to a two-storey brick building, which was accommodating former mental patients taken up from London to avoid the blitz. We were there for two months, and we were shipped out. We were told before we left that we wouldn't be put in any danger, and we were assigned to a TB ward, where everybody was very sick, and the staff were falling like flies.
After the two months there, we were sent to a place outside of Glasgow, and it was called Calair. And that was a hospital that was built during the war. It consisted of H-shaped wards, and we had central heating there. There was no heating down in Bangor - it was just freezing cold. We had a great time there. We were there for seven months. We were able to travel around and see the different areas.