"Newspapers said [there was a] landing in Sicily and when I saw that I knew that’s where he was and I cried because he was only 17 and landed in Sicily. He had seen terrible things being in a place like that."
I was working in a factory first making airplane wires for radios for airplanes. I worked there for two years and then joined the [Women’s] Land Army. They didn’t think we were doing enough for the war effort.
They took us in as young as 17, for the service you had to be 18. We went through Reading [England] and we were in a big billet, a big house, and we had to stay there a month for our training. We went to a farm and each one of us girls was taken to a farm every morning. In the morning at each farm we had to milk cows, clean stables and do this and that and the other thing. It was an eye-opener. I caught on to it after a while and I liked it.
The farm I had was Lady Meredith who owned it. And it was a small farm so I was quite content with that, to be doing that. And I was there for a month and then was sent to another farm where it had three barns of cows, and about sixty cows that needed milking and then, we’d change then. And, oh, milking 60 cows was a lot of work and we had men, seven [Italian] prisoners of war, working with us.
We were living in cottages on the farm. She [a friend] was in one cottage and I was on in the other cottage. But the building consisted of a penny shop, and a shop where they sold magazines and cigarettes, and stuff. So, it was some place in Richmond, that was the name of the place. It was a lonely place, certainly, awfully lonely. I enjoyed it while I was there, I enjoyed it.
I went next of all stationed in Manchester. We received two other guys who came in for something to eat and the other guys had dates for the night and my fellow didn’t have one so they asked me for a date on his behalf and I said, “If he can’t ask me himself, to hell with him!” Well, that was it. He sent him out laughing. He sat out on the steps waiting for me to come down from the powder room. I come down the stairs and he was chewing his nails, sitting on the steps. I said, “What do you want?” And he said, “I was waiting for you. When do you get done with work?” I said, “6:00.” He said, “I’ll be at the front waiting for you.” Anyway, instead of going out for the evening to a picture show [the movies] or something we just went walking, and telling me about the island and the family and what they do here and everything. It was very interesting. We were walking so far it brought us to the next county. He said he lived a long way away; he told me he lived on a farm on Prince Edward Island. I said, “Where the hell is that?”
He said, “It’s on the coast of the country [Canada]. It’s a nice place, a good place for children and people, you know, are very friendly.” I said, “You know where I live now. This is Manchester. So what now?” He said, “I want you to write to me when you go back, I want you to pack some bags when I get back.” So I said, “I’ll wait for you.”
He went back to his camp and he was sent to Sicily then. He didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know himself. Newspapers said [there was a] landing in Sicily and when I saw that I knew that’s where he was and I cried because he was only 17 and landed in Sicily. He had seen terrible things being in a place like that. And I wrote him quite a bit and he wrote back. Then he got a bit of leave, about three or four weeks straight and then they sent another contingent over and then they get leave for a while.
So, [he said], “I’m coming home,” to see me. He said, “I am planning on writing letters to you.” He’d been writing things to me: “You come with me or not for me.” So I changed my mind for him. So we corresponded with each other until he was back.
And then finally, when the last time he was back up he asked me to marry him and at that I was surprised because I didn’t know, I wasn’t much interested in marrying him. I mean he was from Canada and I am from England and I wasn’t happy going anywhere, I couldn’t picture me moving to a new country and leave home. He said, “Well, let’s at least have negotiations because I’ll miss you and we both can’t be happy.” Anyway, we decided to go get married on September 29, 1945 and six months later we moved to Canada. We arrived in Halifax on the coal burning ship on April 7th and it was snowing like blazes!