I know you will think I'm exaggerating. You could not hardly
pinpoint blue sky. It was a beautiful day. There were no clouds.
The aircraft, the numbers of them. Thousands of them going over
this way and coming back the other way and why they didn't run
in to each other, I have no idea. And can you imagine the noise
when you hear one bomber go over, imagine the noise.
Well, when you hear thousands of them and it's a never ending
thing. My gosh it was just a fabulous day. So anyway we had been,
you know, readying for this moment not knowing when it was going
to happen. About the 5th we started putting hot water bottles in
every bed to reduce the shock of their, you know, when they
finally arrived. The 6th was the sky day and the very next
morning, the first man wounded on the beach was my patient and
he came in through that door on a stretcher. I rushed over and I,
we had, had no news at all you see. We heard Eisenhower speak
and Churchill, but that was it. "We've landed this morning, we
have landed," but you see, we were the closest hospital to the
wounded and to the beach, but they've got to get them back by
ambulance and everything. Finally, it happened and the following
day we got the first patient in the door and that's when I rushed
over and said "How are we doing over there" because we have had
no news at all. He said, "Sister, they're just mowing us down on
the beach." And I turned on my heel and thought to myself, "My
gosh, we're into another Dieppe right here and we're not going
to make it. Well, we did make it, but at great, great cost.
And can you believe that one minute we had not one patient.
Twelve hundred empty beds with hot water bottles in them.
After I spoke with this man, I looked out the window, you could
not see the end of the ambulances. Every bed was filled.
Twelve hundred beds. Isn't that something. And we worked
16 and 18 hours a shift. And we saw some dreadful things,
but they were well enough to, you know, stand that trip.
Some of them were very badly wounded. I will never forget,
and he was a Nova Scotian. He had left his legs at Casino,
both of them. Mid thigh amps, he had all his faculties.
He was as pleasant as the dickens. And I would pick him up each
morning because he was so chirpy, so friendly, so pleasant,
so happy all the time and I would put him, he would put his
amps around my side, and I, and hold my neck and I would carry
him easily because actually, you know, he was only half there!
Half a man I was carrying. I did it every morning. So he got
fresh sheets every morning, but I did that sort of for mental
reasons for the patients because maybe somebody was very
depressed - they had lost one eye, one leg, one arm and here was
this guy that would never walk again, you know. Just think of it.
So he'd sit there and laugh and everything and then I'd go back
and he'd, "Here comes my Sister again". Then at the
end of it, I'll never forget that night as long as I live.
They wanted two volunteers to go to the front line. Marg Pearly
and Georgie Rideout put their hands up. As a matter of fact,
this man, a captain came back, the matron notified us and she
said you're to be in the hall or lounge or some darn thing. Well
I knew I wanted to go and so I stood at the back and he said,
this man was a captain and he said, "Now, I want two volunteers
who really want to go to the front line." And I, two
hands shot up and they were both mine. I stood at the back so
nobody would see it, you know. And they all knew I wanted to go,
but then another girl came also. We left the next morning at six
o'clock. We stayed that night in Brussels. We went on to Nijmegen
where Bill Mustard was. Bill Mustard had interned at TGH.
You know the great Bill Mustard, marvellous man and so that was
kinda like old home week and then we started down the battle
road and I was looking ahead and I thought, "My gosh, how could
anybody have the time to paint a picket fence," and it was
beautiful. We were 2 or 3 miles away from it and, and it was
fresh paint. I never had such a shock in my life. When I got up
there, they were the white crosses at the head of the Canadian
graves. There is one little incident that if I knew how to
contact a mother who lost a 19 year old son and she lived in
Saskatchewan, I would have been happy. She wouldn't have been
happy with the news and I wasn't either, but I, I well, I'll just
never forget it. This boy, outwardly, had no wounds at all and,
of course, inwardly he was haemorrhaging. We didn't know that.
I'm diagnosing him right here and I'll tell you what happened
to him. He had the biggest blue eyes I've ever seen. I don't know
whether they were brown or blue now really, but he had beautiful
eyes, a good looking boy and he said in the loveliest most
polite voice, "Sister, would you write a letter to my mother and
tell her that I've been wounded?" I said, and then right then,
I had to go out. There was no operating room, but there was
a first aid thing and they thought more people were coming in
and I'm the only nurse there. And I said, "Yes, as soon as I
come back". And I'll tell ya, when I came back and all I saw was
a grey blanket, I just I fell up against, I nearly fainted.
Actually, it was the Red Cross' job to write the letters and the
Padre. The Padre was busy out in the field. It wasn't his fault
and there was no Red Cross girl there. And it was the last
night of the war. And I have regretted ever since that I
did not find out that boy's name. All I know is his
looks and that he was nineteen.
Interviewer: And from Saskatchewan.
And from Saskatchewan. And his mother, he didn't mention his
father. He didn't mention the family. "Would you please write
a letter to my mother." I said, I certainly and I was breaking
rules to do it because we didn't have time for that and
I couldn't do it. Well listen, I was going to get it in during
that hour shift, I'll tell you that. Well, I didn't have the
chance. So I never ever forgot that boy and I just would like to
contact every darn legion in Saskatchewan and see what mother
had lost a boy, but you know we're all getting so old and that
mother is likely gone, too. Well, how do you know?
And how old was she? I was a kid, you know, and she had this
19 year old son so, but what that wouldn't have meant to her.
She'd have kept that right in the bible. Right there as you open
the first page, wouldn't she? That letter from her wonderful son
and it would have been a contact and she would have known
something of what happened to him. Well, it was just
absolutely pitiful. But war is fun in a way. It's great to win
it, but at great, great cost and there's was nothing funny about
that. But to think that everybody can get together and
work so hard, stay on eighteen hours and sleep for four
and go back again, you know. It's really...