I was nineteen when I kissed my sweetheart goodbye as he went overseas to fly with the RAF in missions over Germany. I worked at the London Life in London, Ontario, as a stenographer, and each day I listened to radio broadcasts asking women – particularly young women – to join the Air Force, so that men could be released to go on flying duty. I felt I couldn’t do any less than that. I had to go, so I joined up at nineteen.
My first assignment was at Camp Borden, which was a flying training school. There, I eventually replaced a young man from Toronto who wanted to go Air Crew. It was perhaps the highlight of my career in the Air Force that four years later, I was in No. 6 RCAF Bomber Group out of Yorkshire, England, when that same young man finished his tour of duty over Germany and came and thanked me for joining up so that he could go Air Crew and do his tour of duty.
I served at the headquarters of No. 6 RCAF Bomber Group. The squadrons were all based in Yorkshire at that time. I was a Sergeant in charge of the Signals Administration Office under the command of Wing Commander Knowle Eaton of the very famous Eaton family. He was one of Timothy’s grandsons, and a fine officer to work for.
I was in the Air Force for four years, and I suppose like anyone else I had some frightening experiences. One was in the North Atlantic. I was in charge of a hundred and fifty airwomen going overseas on the old Empress of Scotland. On the fifth night out the alarm rang at one o’clock in the morning, and we were instructed to proceed to the deck ready to abandon ship because an unidentified aircraft was approaching us. It was my job to get everybody out on deck with their gas mask packs on their back, ready to abandon ship. However, before I had an opportunity to do that the PA came on again, and we were advised that the aircraft had identified itself as one of ours, out on reconnaissance. With a great sigh of relief we stopped shaking!
I didn’t really experience bombing except for London when I went on leave, and we felt so invulnerable as young people that the fact that London was bombed every night wouldn’t bother us. We’d go to London and enjoy everything that was going on there – and there was much going on – because the music continued, and the theatre continued, and the wild life there continued. We loved London.