Veteran Stories:
John Upton Kirk

Army

  • Mr. Kirk in 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"So she mentioning, she says, by the way you’re dancing much better. So she says, oh, you weren’t sitting home all the time when you were overseas. And I don’t imagine she was either."

Transcript

Some of my friends and I were in the beer parlour in Victoria [British Columbia], which was, Victoria was dry at that time. And you had to come out to Esquimalt if you wanted a drink and we were all pretty young and we were sitting around there, we said, well, we’ll be in this thing sooner or later, so we all went down to the Bay Street Armouries and signed up. When the war was over, they shipped us back to England and of course, I was late getting over, so I wasn’t too swift coming back, which is only fair. They gave the fellows that were there the longest, you know, back home sooner. And I was betrothed to a girl that I left behind and she used to send me, you know, package, stuff like biscuits and you can imagine what they’re like when I got them overseas. And so you couldn’t get a decent roll of toilet paper in England. And so I thought, instead of sending these biscuits over, I said, the next time you send me a parcel, would you mind throwing in a couple of rolls of toilet paper. Because I said, you can, all you use is the news of the world over here. About six weeks later, here comes this parcel. Sure enough, I open it up, here’s three rolls of toilet paper. And she was working at the Liquor Control Board down here in Victoria and I really wish that I had kept this. And she’d got one of the girls in the office to all write something on each sheet of toilet paper in this roll. And one was, “This is rationed like everything else, you’re only allowed one up and one down.” Well, there’s other things that I can’t think of but I should have kept it but it was really priceless and it was the talk of the barracks because I used to show it to all the guys. And after that, when we were, they didn’t know what to do with us because, you know, there was nothing. And they shipped to us, up to a place called Lancaster [England]. And look and was kind of doing bookwork and oh God, I think that was just putting in time. And outside of that was a place called Morecambe seaside resort. And all those English wanted to get to the seaside, you know, after the war and there was about 10 girls to every fellow. We had a ball. It really was. We did have a wonderful time up there. So it wasn’t all, you know, bad. When I came back [to Victoria], I took my future wife, we had a place called the Crystal Gardens [a convention centre and dance hall] down here where we used to go and so anyways, we, the first thing we had to do, is you have to go to the Crystal. And before I left, I was a, you know, stumble bum, on the dance floor that is. And of course, then after all these English girls, they really could dance. And their music was just as good as any of the American bands like Ben [Glenn] Miller [Orchestra] or anything. So she mentioning, she says, by the way you’re dancing much better. So she says, oh, you weren’t sitting home all the time when you were overseas. And I don’t imagine she was either. Because we had to find an old seaside landlady to put us up. And we thought, oh, we’ll have to see an English football game before we get home. Or soccer game as they called it. So we got our bicycles and we cycled down to this place called Preston [England] and there was two football, teams called Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers were playing. So we go up to get a ticket and I says, where do you sit? And then of course the old guy says, you Canada buggers, you don’t sit, you stand over there. And that’s what we did. And then on the way back, it started to rain. Oh, and we were cycling. Of course, we were in pretty good shape then too. Well, that was about 45 miles. So you can imagine what we were like when we got back.
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