Veteran Stories:
Estelle Aspler

Army

  • Estelle Ruth Tritt Aspler pictured with her friend A.W. Lindsay in Bayeaux.

  • Canadian Army document granting Estelle Ruth Tritt Aspler permission to travel to London for attendance of "Special Jewish services." May 1944.

  • Estelle Ruth Tritt Aspler in Ottawa, 1994. Aspler was asked to lay a wreath at the War Memorial to honour the Jewish women who served in the Canadian Forces.

  • Estelle Ruth Tritt Aspler and others from #18 Canadian General Hospital (CGH) scrounging wood for fireplaces. 1944.

  • A page from Estelle Ruth Tritt Aspler's clothing and equipment statement, tracking the various items that she had been issued. 1944.

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

""The evening of D-Day, we could hear the planes going over all night long, and after four or five days we began to receive men who had been injured…""

Transcript

Estelle Ruth Tritt Aspler. I was a Lieutenant Nursing Sister from 1942 to l945. I went to England with agent of 18th Canadian General Hospital. We were farmed out to different Canadian hospitals.

We had a Highland Division in with malaria.

They had come from the Middle East and Italy. The soldiers were given anti-malaria pills while they were in the Middle East, but when they went on leave, they didn't take the pills. The bugs were still in their system and they developed malaria. And we had whole units in our wards. You could call the roll call. They were all there.

The evening of D-Day, we could hear the planes going over all night long, and after four or five days we began to receive men who had been injured in D-Day. But, they had gone from hospital to hospital to hospital before we got them.

We left for France and we arrived July the 14th. We went up to outside Dieppe. Some of us were told to pack up and we were moving up to Brussels. From Brussels to Antwerp. Matron MacDonald told us to wear our battle dress, which we did. Matron Schaffner greeted us at army headquarters in Brussels, shocked to see us in battle dress. After all you wouldn't wear pants in Toronto or Montreal. There was another Jewish nursing sister with me, Anne Chapman. Wherever I went I looked for people of my religion who'd had a very hard time. In Antwerp I found a little group of people who had gathered together, survivors lamenting on those who had gone. A man who had been taken for forced labour and managed to escape, came back to find his wife and children had been taken. Sad stories.

I had a couple of leaves in Paris and I looked up a Jewish community there. And they were having a party for children and the people who had sheltered them. And, here again, were stories of people who had been saved by friends, neighbours or perfect strangers. Anne and I found the families that had survived there through the underground through neighbours. And we spent first Seder night there. We went to the little place they used as a synagogue and there were fellows from the Canadian Army, French, Polish, who were gathered there and the small community took a couple of boys home with them and we went with another family. And at the table was a rabbi from Germany who had worked in the underground, who looked as if he had TB. A young man of about eighteen, nineteen, who the Dutch wanted to get people into the army to go to the East Indies and he didn't know whether to sign up or whether to try to find his parents who had been deported. And there were two youngsters, fourteen, fifteen, who refused to speak German. They would only speak Dutch. It was an unusual evening.

Follow us