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Toughening up

Heroes Remember

We were there for a few months and then there was a big hospital down in Horley, which was about down south and we went down there and it was a beautiful big hospital and we worked there for about a year and a half, two years we worked there and we didn't have any real war experiences, yet I must say I enjoyed it so much I almost forgot there was a war until we started drilling and nurses knew no more about left, right, left, right or right turn or left turn, they were just, women are terrible military people like that, you know. And he would roar at us you know, he'd say, “No, you're out of step!” And we'd start all over again. And we marched a long way and they were trying to build us up then we started carrying packs on our backs, just a little bit, not very heavy. And then before we knew it, I think this was right, we went North of England, we left the hospital and we went up to train a bit more, a bit harder training, just physical training, not nursing training.

Ms. Whittaker describes her hospital experience at Horley, England as being pleasant with little contact with war wounded. Her introduction to army drill brings her back to the reality of war.

Geraldine Whittaker

Geraldine Whittaker was born on March 12, 1915 in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. Her father was the local doctor, and she would accompany him on his rounds. Ms. Whittaker decided to become a nurse after graduating from school, entering the nursing program at Montreal General Hospital. In 1937, after three years of training, she decided to enlist in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. After war was declared, Ms. Whittaker went to England where she served in hospitals at Farnborough and Horley. She was deployed to North Africa, but her ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean Sea. Rescued personnel were landed in Naples, Italy. Ms. Whittaker served in a hospital in nearby Caserta for eight months. She volunteered for service in France, was transferred there, and later served in Belgium and Holland. After her return to Newfoundland, Ms. Whittaker continued her nursing career.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Geraldine Whittaker
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

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