"And we were singing, ‘Going to take a sentimental journey.’ And I never forgot that song because it stayed in my mind."
I’m Ruby Somers. I was Ruby Camraman, lived all my life in Newcastle [New Brunswick]. I was undecided what I wanted to do and I happened to pick up the paper and there was a picture of a little Wren. And they were recruiting for Wrens [Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Services]. So I looked at that little Wren and I said, “That’s what I want to be,” when I was only 17. I volunteered away and wrote a letter and got a letter back saying that I was too young and they would get in touch with me again when I was 18. And so they did. The first thing I knew, I was on my way to Galt, Ontario, to start my training.
I thought when I got on that train, that I would never get to my destination. I thought I was going to the end of the world. It just seemed so far to me, where I had only been as far as St. John [New Brunswick] before that. When we landed in Galt, there was a big truck there to pick us all up and brought us out to the HMCS Conestoga and that was the beginning of my three years in the navy. I had a very dear friend, Betty Chisholm, she was from Antigonish, Nova Scotia and we met on the train. They picked her up where she lived in Antigonish and the train was coming through and I was waiting to get on, and there was a seat vacant right beside Betty, and I just sat there and right away, we became friends. Yeah, it was really nice. She was a good friend.
Everywhere we went, we seemed to be posted together at the same place. So that was good. Because I was a little bit shy back then and kind of hard to make friends, new friends. So Betty and I got along very well and we just happened to be posted together. And then we volunteered for overseas. So there was a bulletin up on the board one day. It was looking for volunteers for overseas. We looked at each other and said, how about that? And so we volunteered, put our names down. And the next thing we knew, we were on our way to Newfoundland, which was overseas at that time and we were stationed there for a year. And the war ended when we were over there and it was a great day. Oh, there was shouting on the base and there was balloons flying up in the air and it was just great. From there, we knew that we would be home soon, so we were quite happy about that too, after three years.
We were all out on deck and the big, this great big ship and we were all singing away and having a great old time, but the deck was getting pretty empty. We were all getting seasick. So that was quite a time, but I never forgot that. And we were singing, ‘Going to take a sentimental journey.’ And I never forgot that song because it stayed in my mind.
And I wasn’t a very good sailor because I was sick the whole time I was on the ship. I never got up for a meal. I loved Newfoundland. There was a park there, it was called Bowring Park. We had bicycles that we could just take on loan from the base, and we would bike out to there and bring a lunch and it was beautiful. And we often went out there and the buses would take us to different places to, just to show us around Newfoundland and spend the day. I really loved St. John’s [Newfoundland]. It was my best year.