Veteran Stories:
Pauline Cox Walker

Army

  • Pauline Walker is pictured fifth from the left in the top row.

    Pauline Walker
  • Pauline Walker (left) and Ethel Rowell (on the right) pictured in Concello, Italy, in May 1944.

    Pauline Walker
  • Pauline Walker with her friends. They were nicknamed the "Concello Cuties".

    Pauline Walker
  • Pauline Walker is the pictured third from the left in 1941 on the boat before disembarking in Scotland.

    Pauline Walker
  • Pauline Walker's uniform.

    Pauline Walker
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"And they took over 1,000 soldiers that night, which were all Canadians there. And they did a fine job, that captain did a wonderful job. They were so smart, the way they did it because that was a huge job, taking on a tremendous number of people."

Transcript

We started from Halifax, [Nova Scotia] and we were a group of Canadian nurses and soldiers and most of us had never met before. A lot of us hadn’t, so it was a great time to get to know each other. And we were about three days onboard, going to England. It turned out to be quite an adventure because I had never been on this sort of a cruise. We left to go to Italy. That was quite an adventure because on our way, on about the second day out [on November 6, 1943], in the Mediterranean, we were torpedoed. It was actually an aerial torpedo which the Germans were just starting to use, something quite new. And we were very fortunate because the [SS] Monterey, another ship in our convoy, stayed behind to make sure that we were picked up. That night, there was over 1,000 Canadians picked by the Monterey crew. We had to climb a scramble net, which it’s kind of a big huge net they throw over the side of the ship and you have to climb up this thing. One of the girls couldn’t make it so she fell belly into the water so one of my boys jumped in and got her and helped her up. In a way, they finally made it. So there was a bit of difficulty there. So then we set sail pretty much on our own by this time because the rest of the convoy had gone pretty much ahead. We were standing out on the deck when they [the Germans] fired this thing into the stern of our ship and right away of course, the ship became unbalanced because it had a fair hole in the side of it. And it was then that we had to take to the lifeboats. And unfortunately, the local people that were part of the crew didn’t know much about running a lifeboat, so we were afraid it was a bit difficult but we managed. Anyway, they got us over to the Monterey, so that was fine. And they took over 1,000 soldiers that night, which were all Canadians there. And they did a fine job, that captain did a wonderful job. They were so smart, the way they did it because that was a huge job, taking on a tremendous number of people. And they were right there in line for an attack because they were by themselves. They were just waiting for us. No, they were pretty brave.
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