"In turn, what happened with the NCOs and the officer, we were responsible for all the girls on a particular station. So that was a lot to be responsible for. So I got to know quite a lot about how the women acted and what they did and on the whole, I was very delighted with what I found in my work with them."
The thing that prompted me was seeing all my neighbours’ sons going off to war. In 1941 in July, the government decided that women would be enlisted. And I heard Lorne Greene [CBC broadcaster] on the radio announce this and it was electric in our little home when that news came over. I was the eldest child, the only girl, with six brothers. And it was exciting for me. There had been a long depression and men looking for work and it was quite horrible. So when this came on, sounded wonderful but then they said, you had to be 21. And I wasn’t quite 20. So I thought, “Horrors,” you know, I was pretty upset. And that was July 1941. Then they chose 150 women, from across the country, from different provinces to be the first women to train [in the RCAF Women’s Division]. And so they were the nucleus of the instructors and officers and NCOs [non-commissioned officers] that were to teach the rest as they come on-stream.
So in the first part of 1942, they changed the age, they switched the age to 18. And so, hurray, that left me eligible. And right away, I wrote to the recruiting office in North Bay, [Ontario] I lived in Parry Sound, [Ontario] a very odd way to get over there. And I was enlisted on the 12th of February, 1942. I was working in Flying Control and it was perfect because our motto was, “They Serve That Men May Fly.” In other words, leave the people who were working in offices and everything free to join if their health made it possible.
So I really felt, gosh, this is why I enlisted, you know, this is the motto and here I am, working, seeing all these, and this was the British Commonwealth [Air] Training Plan [aircrew training program created by Commonwealth countries] that had been planned with all the Commonwealth nations: Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada. And there were some Norwegians in there and the odd Austrian. And so here I was in Flying Control and all these men coming back and forth, flying, I’d sign them out and sign them in and talk to them and keep their log books, so their log books would be just perfect, all that sort of thing. So it was exciting. So I had six months of that and I thought, wow, this is why I came.
I was reporting for this course, so I met a lot of new faces again and graduated as a, as a corporal. And went to No.15 Service Flying Training Station in Claresholm, Alberta. And I seemed to be always in what they called a Training Command, this is where the pilots were training. There were elementary bases [Elementary Flying Training Schools for basic aviation training] and there were bombing bases [training for bombing missions] and there were ops [Operational Training Units for training for operations] on both coasts, that sort of thing. But these were Service Flying [Training Schools for advanced pilot training].
So I was there for another six months and the second corporal to a bunch of girls, along with a sergeant and two officers. Then I was posted to No. 19 [Service Flying Training School], Vulcan, Alberta, which is not too far away, another training station to be the corporal to that station and meet the first group of girls coming to that station. Just like I was when I had gone to Camp Borden, [Ontario].
So I knew how exciting it was for them. So in turn, what happened with the NCOs and the officer, we were responsible for all the girls on a particular station. So that was a lot to be responsible for. So I got to know quite a lot about how the women acted and what they did and on the whole, I was very delighted with what I found in my work with them.