Veteran Stories:
Bernice McDonald (née Boyd)

Army

  • Mrs. Mc Donald's Service Discharge Certificate, June 14, 1946.

    Bernice Mc Donald
  • Mrs. Mc Donald's grandchildren Ryan, Megan and Christopher posing in front of her portrait at Queen's University.

    Bernice Mc Donald
  • Mrs. Mc Donald saluting in 1942, she is front and center of the photograph.

    Bernice Mc Donald
  • Newspaper clip of a reunion of friends overseas during World War Two. Mrs. Mc Donald is second from the left.

    Bernice Mc Donald
  • Bernice McDonald, January 8, 2010, in Burlington, Ontario.

    Historica Canada
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"he knew that women should not be in the army, but I’ve changed my mind, Lieutenant Boyd. And I hope I’m the first one to salute you when you come to work here. So that I treasure."

Transcript

After training, I was sent to Chorley Park Military Hospital [Toronto], to the dental clinic. I was a dental assistant prior to joining. So I carried on with dental assisting and one note I think is very interesting, the major in charge of the dental clinic said now, Private Boyd, you might have a little problem here. And I said, what would that be? And he said, well, the attendant here, Private McNeilage, is a World [War] I veteran and does not believe in women in the army. So I’m just warning you. Well, I got along fine with Private McNeilage and when I graduated from Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue with my first pip [officer’s insignia], his was the first letter I received - which I still have- stating that when he met me, he knew that women should not be in the army, but I’ve changed my mind, Lieutenant Boyd. And I hope I’m the first one to salute you when you come to work here. So that I treasure. We were sent over to replace these girls and apparently - and this I don’t know for sure - they were supposed to have been sent to Canada to recoup for three months. And that’s how that came about. So we just went over to England and that was fine. I mean, alone without being guarded. And on the ship, a young man was operated on for appendix and the army man in charge of the troop, his troops, had been a patient of my dentist, the one I worked for. And he had seen me come on ship and we were out at sea and over the P.A. system, will Lieutenant Boyd report to the adjutant or somebody’s office. And I said, oh my God, what have I done? But I reported and this gentleman was there, I don’t know his rank, his name was Huff. He said, Bernice, they are going to have an emergency appendectomy, would you like to be there? And I said, yes, I’d go for anything. So anyway, we went in to the operating room and it was a young sailor and he saw me. Of course, he didn’t know who he was and he just said, I bet you won’t be here when I waken up, thinking I’d faint or something. I said, I bet I will. Anyway, we all stood there and somebody from the, I guess the captain, called and said, now. And we kind of stopped. And the operation was done. Well, they were waiting I guess, whether I can’t say they stopped completely but they were waiting for the right time for the, for want of a better word, the captain, could I guess make the ship smooth or as, as well as he could handle it. Because you didn’t want to stop in the ocean, afraid of somebody being under you or around you. But anyway, he came from the captain’s voice: now, and the surgeons were ready. I didn’t actually see cutting it but that’s what happened. Another very interesting experience for me.
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