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A Woman Joins the Unit

Heroes Remember

A Woman Joins the Unit

Our corporal was a well trained operating room nurse, he wasn't a nurse by profession but back in England they trained him so that when we were working with the British and the same with them, Corporal Watt (sp) was the operating room nurse in charge and responsible for the instruments being sterilized and all that sort of thing. And when we came back to the Canadians, the powers that be decided that they were going to send up a real army nurse. This didn't go over well at all with our boys and because, why, we were doing fine the way we were and we don't want any dame around. She'd be a nuisance. Well, they sent us a little girl, Ms. Ackmyre (sp). She came from Winnipeg, she was small, broad and... But she had only been there a short time, she got into a game of poker with the boys and she cleaned them out and they respected her a great deal after that. She made it! She's one of them! Everything went smooth from there on, yeah.

Mr. Meiklejohn describes the feeling of the unit when the male head nurse was replaced by a woman, and recalls how she came to be accepted.

Dr. Robert Meiklejohn

Dr. Robert Meiklejohn was born in 1907, in Harriston, Ontario, and remained there throughout his youth, participating in cadets and the local militia. While attending medical school in England during the 1930s, Mr. Meiklejohn visited Germany. He returned from his visit certain war was imminent. Dr. Meiklejohn re-joined the militia upon his return to Canada, leading to quick enlistment upon Canada's declaration of war. Frustrated after almost a year of performing medical exams on troops, Dr. Meiklejohn transferred to the 16th Field Ambulance (whom he had been a militia member of) when it was activated, and was posted overseas. After arriving in England, Dr. Meiklejohn was posted to a newly created field surgical unit, a section of an advance surgical unit stationed within a few miles of the front lines, and posted to Italy. After losing their equipment when the ship was sunk during the journey, the unit was posted with British Forces for a few months before reuniting with Canadians. Following the Italian Campaign, Dr. Meiklejohn's unit was transferred to France to join Canadian troops heading into Holland. Dr. Meiklejohn finished his service in Holland bringing relief to the starving population. He returned to Canada soon after VE Day.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Dr. Robert Meiklejohn
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp / 4th Armoured Division

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