Veteran Stories:
Ruth McMillan

Navy

  • Ruth McMillan pictured in her uniform, 1944.

    Ruth McMillan
  • Ruth McMillan pictured on the right in her uniform, 1944.

    Ruth McMillan
  • Ruth McMillan pictured on the bottom left with friends.

    Ruth McMillan
  • Ruth McMillan pictured during a party in Newfoundland.

    Ruth McMillan
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"They told me that I couldn’t join the Army because they figured it was too “rough” for women, so I joined the Navy. That was to be the Ladies’ services!"

Transcript

I was living in Summerside [Prince Edward Island] at the time and I went down to Charlottetown and decided that I was going to join up. I joined the Navy because both my brothers were in the service. Both were in the Army and they told me that I couldn’t join the Army because they figured it was too “rough” for women, so I joined the Navy. That was to be the Ladies’ services! When I went home she was down in the garden and she started walking up towards me so I said to her “Mom, you’d better sit down. I’ve got something to tell you.” So I told her and you know what she said to me? “You made your bed, now you lie on it.” Well, it was hard at first but then, all the other girls were doing the same thing so you just went along with them and we got along fine. I was used to discipline from home. We were a family of five children and both my brothers had gone in the war. They were both Army. We sailed on the [SS] Lady Rodney. We left with a convoy after dark, at night. There was a submarine in the middle of the convoy that was trying to sink some of the ships, but the convoy itself was going on to England. They dropped us off at the mouth of the harbour in Newfoundland and that’s where I stayed until the end of the war. That was a good experience. You slept in your jeans or whatever you had on- navy pants. You didn’t get undressed when you were on the ship, going across, because you had to have some clothes on if anything happened. When they knew there was a submarine in the midst of it, they had us come out on deck and we all wore a little light so that if we had to go overboard they could find you by the light. But you didn’t stand a chance anyway; in the water you would have frozen. Scary. I think that most scary time when I was in Newfoundland we worked down in what they called the dockyard. You were not allowed to walk down by yourself or to walk home by yourself. You always had to be escorted in a vehicle. Because I know we tried to get out one day past the guard at the gate and he just lifted his rifle up and said “You stay where you are!”
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