Veteran Stories:
Mary Barrett

Air Force

  • Mary Barrett

  • Mary Barrett in her Nursing Sister uniform, 1944.

    Mary Barrett
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"I remember a lad I was in school with coming back mentally disturbed. And the only person that could calm him down was me because we could talk about school things together."

Transcript

After nurse’s training, I married Gerald Giroux, who was a high school sweetheart and he had enlisted in the RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force] wireless air gunner’s school. He signed up and was recruited in Sherbrooke [Quebec] in September of the same year but remember the friends of mine and he signed up in the morning and they had to gather their clothes and be on train out of Sherbrooke from Montreal by suppertime that same night. And his mother always said he was never allowed to sleep over again at home. As her son, he was always a man in uniform.

We were together six weeks in Montreal while he was at the training school. And then he was sent to Regina. And from there, he went overseas in May of 1941. He was shot down over Munich when they were bombing a Krupp ironworks on April the 7th [2nd], 1942. And he is buried in the [Dürnbach] British military cemetery in Bad Tölz, Germany.

I was recruited to join in June of 1942 from Montreal and I was allowed to go in at the age of 23 because I was a widow. Because they had a stipulation that nurses must be 25 to go into the service. And I was sent to the RCAF station in St. Thomas, Ontario and they were boys of the ground crew and a lot of them were permanent service. They used to say to me, see that signature? That was when I was 17. They were a fine bunch and after their training, they went back home.

In February or March of 1943, I can’t remember, I transferred to Lachine to the new Manning Depot. They asked that all nurses who could speak French went back, so I was pleased to go back to the area I was used to. And I served there until October of 1945 and I was discharged from Rockcliffe, Ontario, Thanksgiving weekend. There were many things I remember. I remember a lad I was in school with coming back mentally disturbed. And the only person that could calm him down was me because we could talk about school things together. And he thought I was taking him to my home in Montreal and in reality, I took him out to Sainte-Anne-[de Bellevue] Hospital where he lived the rest of his life in that building for mentally ill. I always felt guilty about that. Yeah. Anyway.

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