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Norma (Morrissey) Girard

This story is submitted by Paul Girard of the Pacific Regional Office. His mother was in uniform in the Second World War (RCAF). She was carrying on a tradition of service in wartime. Her father was at Vimy and was wounded around that time. He spent several months at St. Anne's and went on to a full life but did die prematurely as an indirect result of having been so severely wounded. Paul's mother was reluctant at first to write her story, but we are grateful that she did. She is now anxious to bring some closure to this important chapter of her life and maybe to connect in some way with some long-lost people who may see her story and remember her.

"It was difficult to write after so many years.

After passing my medical I was told to report to Rockcliffe Manning Depot. As I write, so many memories come flooding back. One in particular involved receiving a needle called TABT. To this day I have no idea what it was for. Rumors persisted of course that it was to prevent tropical diseases (TABT is a combined immunisation shot referred to as: typhoid, paratyphoid strains A and B plus tetanus). The men in the line suffered the most. Not from the needle but from the thought of receiving it. Consequently, they fainted and had to be removed from the line by females – so much for the stronger sex!

Next was a posting to Havergale College in Toronto where I completed an administration course and was posted to Mountain View Bombing and Gunnery School. I had no idea where Mountain View was but soon learned it was near Belleville, Ontario, and hence closer to my home town of Montreal.

A posting to Lachine Replacement Depot was next. New Years day we were told to report as several POWs and Airmen who had suffered burns to their faces and hands were expected to arrive. Our job was to issue travel vouchers to the men's home addresses. One in particular, who had been celebrating on the way home, said he wanted to go to Flin Flon in Manitoba. I thought he was trying to be funny. I had never heard of Flin Flon – especially the way he was pronouncing his words in his "happy" state. After a few minutes of exchanging words with the sergeant in charge, and with the help of a train schedule, the problem was solved and a voucher was issued. Whenever I hear that name now I think of that airman and hope he arrived home safe and sound.

The next posting was to the Service Police Detachment in Montreal. The majority of the men had been policemen in civilian life. One of their duties was to round up deserters and AWOLs. I recall one incident where I was to type a report prepared by one of the men concerning a rather vivid description of an event between two sailors. The Provost Marshal, after reading the report, decided it was too explicit for me to type (such gallant behavior). I know it would never happen today but I must admit that I did appreciate his thoughtfulness.

The holding cells were down in the basement and were mainly for military personnel and especially returning POWs who had been celebrating. This was as much for their protection as anything else as they had received large sums of money for their back pay while in prison camp and many of the "ladies" they met while celebrating were quite happy to relieve them of their money. The Provost Marshal was instrumental in changing the rules so that the men were given a percentage of their money with the rest being sent home for them.

These are just a few of the memories. There were sad events and happy ones. It is a lifetime away now and I haven't thought of them until I started putting pen to paper."

Norma (Morrissey) Girard
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