Veteran Stories:
Lottie Gillis (née Wallwork)

Army

  • Women's Land Army (England and Wales) Release Certificate for Lottie Gillis who was a member from July 22, 1943 to November 16, 1945.

    Lottie Gillis
  • Mrs. Lottie Gillis' National Registration Identity Card, which she needed to keep on her at all times during the war should authorities request to see it, dated from 1939 to 1945.

    Lottie Gillis
  • Mrs. Lottie Gillis' embarkation card that was issued to each passenger of the RMS Queen Mary for voyage from England to Canada, stamped upon departure on June 29, 1946.

    Lottie Gillis
  • Canadian Travel Certificate issued to Mrs. Lottie Gillis before leaving England for her voyage to Canada, stamped upon arrival on July 4, 1946.

    Lottie Gillis
  • Luncheon menu from the RMS Queen Mary, on which Lottie Gillis travelled from England to Canada as a War Bride, dated from June 30, 1946.

    Lottie Gillis
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"we went out in the woods, cutting down trees and when it was cooler weather. Then they’d be shipped into the sawmills and we’d be there to saw them into railroad sleepers or pit props"

Transcript

Well, the reason I joined, because my mother didn’t want me to go in the armed forces. And my sister was already in the Women’s Timber Corps. So my girlfriend and I went to join together, have our medicals, etc. and wait to be called. And then we were sent to Southern Wales to train and I’d always lived in a town or city and we were 16 miles from a town. So it was kind of a lot different lifestyle. Then we didn’t have, you know, mechanical saws and things then, it was all axes and crosscut saws and things like that. So it was really hard work. And they had to kind of toughen us up to the job. In the following February, I was sent to a place called Guildford in Surrey, [England], that’s southwest of London. And I worked in a sawmill there for quite a while and I met my husband there, he was stationed in that town. It was a blind date. It was Sunday, so most all these towns in southern England, they’d have an old castle and that’s where people walked on Sunday afternoons. So you’d walk down by the river and sit on the grass. But I had on a new pale blue suit that I’d managed to buy and get enough coupons for. So I didn’t want to sit on the grass in my new suit. So the first kind thing he did, he took off his army jacket and laid it on the grass for me to sit on. So that was my first date with him. And that was in March, I met him and then in July, I was transferred back to Kent to a place called Ashford in Kent. And he wasn’t allowed to leave the area because of the war, waiting to go over to Europe. And I said, I would come back the following weekend but by the time the weekend came, he was already shipped out to France. So I didn’t see him again until the following April. So I wrote letters every day, because he didn’t get much mail, I wrote him every day. And I numbered my letters so that if the mail got bombed, he’d know there was some letters missing. Then when I moved to Ashford, we went out in the woods, cutting down trees and when it was cooler weather. Then they’d be shipped into the sawmills and we’d be there to saw them into railroad sleepers [railroad ties] or pit props [balks of wood used to support the roof of a coal mine], whatever was needed. Worked with men that had been discharged from the Army due to medical reasons. My girlfriend and I lived together like all, we were billeted on civilians. They had to take us, whether they wanted to or not. And we had bikes and we took them up into the town and then we had to ride on the back of a truck, covered by a tarp, of course. And sometimes we’d go in the prisoner of war camps to pick up the prisoners, Italians. They worked with us too. But we never worked with the German prisoners of war, because they had armed guards with them all the time, so we didn’t work with them at all. Just with Italian prisoners. And they’d take you way out into the country where the areas were that had to be cut down. Then you’d stay all day, whether it rained or not, you just kept on working, there wasn’t much to do, so you just kept working, whether it rained or not, so. Yeah. Then back on the truck into town at night. So got married in August of 1945, 25th of August and the war had been over on the 15th. So really, I wasn’t a war bride, was I?
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