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Private (Ret’d) Vicky Luscombe

Vicky Luscombe was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland during the summer of 1925. As the Second World War commenced, Vicky had plans of enlisting to support the Canadian war effort. At 16, she was turned away due to her young age. But two years later, just a day after her 18th birthday, she was accepted by the Forces and joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC).

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Private (Ret’d) Vicky Luscombe

Born Emily Victoria Goodyear, but known to everyone as Vicky, she was the middle child in a family with five. She spent much of her childhood helping her mother raise her younger brothers, before she joined the CWAC against the wishes of her parents.

“She loved serving her country, and reveled in the independence and fellowship that came with it.”

Vicky’s career with the Forces began in Kitchener, Ontario, where she enrolled in a driver’s course. Upon completion of the course, she was assigned to Chilliwack, British Columbia as a member of the CWAC. Her duties included driving officers around, and delivering important messages from site to site. She was assigned her own Jeep to complete her day to day tasks. “She loved serving her country, and reveled in the independence and fellowship that came with it,” Rob Luscombe, one of her children, says. “She was full of vim and vigour.”

“She was downtown and couldn’t figure what all the cheering and noise was about.”

On 8 May 1945, Victory in Europe (V-E) Day was declared. The war in Europe had concluded, but the conflict in Asia and the Pacific continued to rage on. 14 August 1945 began as a regular day for Vicky. She was driving through downtown Vancouver stopped at a red light, as she was delivering various messages throughout the city. Little did she know that the Second World War was about to end. “She was downtown and couldn’t figure what all the cheering and noise was about,” says Rob. “A couple of people ran by and shouted that the war was over.”

Residents and fellow Forces members in Vancouver caught wind of this, and approached her Jeep in excitement, with many waving flags in celebration. A photographer, from the now defunct Vancouver Sun, captured the moment of pure joy.

The next day, 15 August 1945, was declared Victory over Japan (V-J) Day, and officially marked the end of the Second World War.

“The day the Jeep picture was taken, she was nervous about getting in trouble for allowing all those people to jump on the jeep with her, especially when she saw the photographer taking pictures,” Rob says “but relaxed a little when she learned the war was over.”

“She played down a lot of the stuff she did in her life as no big deal,” her son says.

Following the emotional moment in Vancouver that marked the conclusion of the Second World War, Vicky released from the Forces in February of 1946. She was awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and was set to return home to Newfoundland. She travelled by train from Vancouver to Sydney, Nova Scotia, and boarded a ferry home.

On the ferry, Vicky met William “Bill” Luscombe, who was returning home from fighting overseas. Bill had enlisted with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders in 1943, before serving in Britain, France, Belgium and during the Liberation of the Netherlands. His fellow infantry gave him the nickname “Lucky”. He too was discharged in February of 1946, and for his service, he was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp.

“My dad is a quiet person by nature, he never ever talked about the war,” Rob says

They met aboard the SS Kyle, as they were both returning home in the spring of 1946, as it crossed the Cabot Strait from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to Newfoundland.

Just one year later, Bill and Vicky married, and moved to Toronto where four of their five children were born, before returning to St. John’s, NL in 1960.

“They had never met, the whole 15, 16 years that they grew up in the same part of Newfoundland, after being born in the same maternity ward, around the same time,” Vicky’s son says “they only met on the boat back to St. John’s after the war was over.”

“Even right now, they go down every November 11, or any event honouring Veterans, they go down and honour those who served,” Rob Luscombe says. “My mother carried the flag and led the parade in 1997 in St. John’s.”

In honour of the 75th anniversary of V-J Day and the end of the Second World War, Vicky Luscombe is this week’s Face of Freedom. She is featured on the official commemorative poster to mark Veterans’ Week 2020, which commemorates the end of the Second World War.

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