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Being a Barber at Sea

Heroes Remember

Being a Barber at Sea

Even before we went there, going across the ocean, I started to cut hair. I had a pair of hair clippers and I used to charge ten cents a haircut. And in the two weeks, by the time we got over there, I had.... at time in the army you only got $30 a month, a dollar a day, and by going overseas we had to send half home. You couldn't have a full pay. The Americans could have their full pay but we didn't. Our half pay was almost equivalent to an officer in the English army. They were getting, when they took a course they'd get thruppence, which was like six cents for a course, you'd get thruppence a day extra. And our pay, like $15, well if you had trades pay you got 2 bits, then if you had some other thing... up to 75 cents you could get extra by taking these courses. Well, the English at full pay couldn't meet us at half pay, we were getting half. So, I signed mine over to my mother. My mother used it and put it away. Well we had a big bunch of sisters and brothers. She still needed a lot of help. But they had a little canteen on the ships and you'd line up for a couple of hours to get.... so I had enough money to hire these young guys that were with me and they'd buy the chocolate bars and then we'd have our own canteen, and by the time I got to England I had $400 which was equivalent to a year's pay. Ten cents a haircut and then when I got overseas I charged them two bits because I wanted to get away from it. The only place you could cut hair was in the bathroom, that's the only place that had any light. Your toilet bowl was your chair. A one-inch haircut. You'd have to cut, you couldn't, there's no excuse, and if you missed a few things it didn't matter because... if you went downtown the line-ups at the barbers were miles and miles, especially in England.

Mr. Senycz tells of giving haircuts for 10 cents each to the soldiers while going overseas and making a year’s wage in two weeks.

John Senycz

Mr. Senycz was born August 22, 1920 in Colhurst, Alberta. His parents were both of Polish descent, born in Czechoslovakia, and moved to Canada to work in the coal mines. At age two, his father died and his mother remarried. Mr. Senycz joined the Canadian Army 4th Division Tank Corps in 1942 and was shipped overseas to England. It was during the Battle of Falaise that his tank got hit and the crew of five soldiers was badly burned. Because of the severity of Mr. Senycz’ burns, he was transported to Basingstoke hospital in England for rehabilitation. With the many burns and scars, Mr. Senycz underwent three to four years of plastic surgery to his face. On September 18, 1945, Mr. Senycz was discharged from the Canadian Army from the orderly room in Vancouver, BC. He later married, moved to Calgary, Alberta, and raised a family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Senycz
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
4th Armoured Division

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