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Frances Carroll

This story is submitted by Mary Scott of Veterans Review and Appeal Board in Charlottetown. Her story is about her mother, Frances Carroll.

"My mother, who is now almost 80, met my father, was married and had her first child during the Second World War. Those eventful years between 1939-1945 not only embraced these three major celebrations in her life, but were perhaps the busiest, most prosperous and heartbreaking for the small Village of McAdam, New Brunswick, where my mother has always and still continues to live.

McAdam was connected to the outside world by its many railway lines. The Village was divided by four sets of tracks, which were life arteries pumping the life's blood of the community. The railway affected everyone, more than 700 men, and during the war years, women worked in the busy shops and railways, and maintained the 10 plus passenger trains that travelled to Woodstock, St. Stephen, Moncton, Saint John, Montreal, Boston, and that linked us with the east and west coast.

During these years trains carrying thousands of young men destined for overseas frequently passed through this Village, and stopped for a short time at the magnificent granite train station, now a National Historic Site. If this castle-like structure could hold human emotion during these war years, I'm sure its walls of rock so worn by rain and weather, would surely be aged by tears.

During the cool fall days of 1940, a memory too real and vivid is told to me by my mother. As a young woman she attended an evening social known as Anglican Young Peoples Association at St. George's Church. Before the break-up of the meeting, a resident of the community interrupted their gathering to announce the pending arrival of a troop train. He asked if everyone would join in the community send-off for these men in uniform, a wartime tradition. The train was expected around nine. The exact times of troop train arrivals were never given out in case of sabotage or spy activities.

My mom and her friends walked down to the station. There were cars and trucks everywhere and a large crowd had gathered. Many from the neighbouring countryside as far away as St. Stephen, were lined up along the plank platform to say "good-bye' and "good luck" to husbands, sons, and loved ones. My mother joined the throng with a friend whose "beau" was on the train. This troop train was lengthy, 11 - 12 cars of 60 men each, almost 700 young men bound for Halifax and a ship overseas.

She recalls the noise and excitement, the coal smoke and cinders, the sea of smiles, faces full of hope and adventure. They hung out the windows, tossing badges and flashes to both loved ones and strangers. My mother remembers the excitement and fun, laughter and cheers.

As the train pulled away, this mass of soldiers burst into a popular wartime song, "The Beer Barrel Polka." The train got smaller as it chugged down the tracks, the voices became an echo. Only a thin trail of smoke reminded them that it was there at all.

They were gone, many never came home again. My mother tells me she never hears this song without recalling this particular train passing through her life. And my mother cried."

From the memory of Frances Carroll, McAdam, New Brunswick
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