Veteran Stories:
Wilma Fern Stanley

Navy

  • Personnel of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) drilling on the parade square during initial training at HMCS Conestoga, Galt, Ontario, December 1943.
    Library and Archives Canada.

    Library and Archives Canada
  • Writer M. McDonald of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) working in the navigation library at HMCS Kings, Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3rd, 1943. Wilma Stanley reviewed "swindle sheets" in a similar environment.

    Library and Archives Canada
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"People brought in their filled-out sheets of traveling expenses and I would have to go through it and see whether they were legitimate or not. I enjoyed catching people trying to trick us."

Transcript

I enlisted on the 11th of November at 11:00 at HMCS Prevost here in London [Ontario]. Well, the navy, all the “Wrens” [Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service] went to Galt [now part of Cambridge, Ontario] first and then I went to HMCS Cornwallis [Nova Scotia] for training. And then I went to Halifax and Ottawa. I was a pay writer. The navy, all the ships had pay logs and whatever ship you belonged to, you were in the pay of that ship. And when we took the course in Cornwallis, I remember the chief saying, among you, there probably will only be maybe one that will not be doing a pay for a ship but maybe traveling expenses. And that’s what I did, traveling expenses. This is when I got back up to Ottawa. I did traveling expenses, so we called them swindle sheets. It was to keep people from cheating on their traveling expenses. I had to follow the naval orders and we looked at people, they would bring their sheets of traveling expenses and I would have to go over it and see that it was legitimate. For instance, people traveled - this is mostly officers but not all officers - people traveled across the country and around. And if they were traveling say to Calgary - and they were allowed cabs but not bellhops, in there, that was in the war rules, you see. And they might say, and I took a cab from the train to the hotel. And the hotel would be the Palliser. I said, well, that’s across the street, you wouldn’t be able to take a cab there. Things like that, we would check them on, you see. You’d have to have some knowledge of travel which I had before the war, and keep people, as I said, from putting in swindle sheets. I had one officer [a Lieutenant] that I did travel expenses for and it turned out to be one [officer] that was in [involved in], what did they call that - the man who was caught - [Igor] Gouzenko … [a Soviet intelligence officer who in 1945 revealed the existence of a Soviet espionage network in Canada]. He put in travel expenses for something like three dollars; you know, just some of the things were ridiculous because they were too far-fetched. And well, we just sort of caught them on some of the things that they did like that. That’s what I was there for. I was in an office in headquarters in Ottawa and that’s where people brought in their filled-out sheets of traveling expenses and I would have to go through it and see whether they were legitimate or not. I enjoyed catching people trying to trick us. There was one petty officer and I, were in the office and a stenographer. And that was in the office in Ottawa, at headquarters. They hated us in Ottawa. I’d been on the curb on the street and been shoved off the curb. Because they thought that we were taking their living quarters from them and Ottawa was scarce for living quarters. But we weren’t because we were in barracks. I was in HMCS Carleton on the- Dow’s Lake in Ottawa. So we weren’t really taking their living quarters from them but some people on the street might have thought, aha, the service, that’s why I can’t get an apartment. So I didn’t like Ottawa much but I stayed there anyway until - my very last posting was here in London. And I came back to London, HMCS Prevost, because I had an apartment here and in those days, you could not keep an empty apartment because of the war. And so I was getting my apartment back into my own control and so I put in for a transfer to Prevost and I was just there a few months and then I was discharged.
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