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Fear of Submarines

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: At this point, would you be afraid? We were afraid, I'll tell you what you were more afraid of, we were more afraid at the time of getting, afraid of getting, because the live bombing was pretty well over then you know, in England. When by the time I went, there was no more, the bombing had stopped. So we weren't that nervous about getting there. And then, and, but there was the Wolfpack, was out there in the, in the Atlantic, there was this New Amsterdam, was a big ship that we got on board. But anyway, I remember being, before we, did I tell you this before? Before we sailed, we always had a church parade you know and everything so they had a church parade For a hymn they chose, ‘Nearer my God to Thee.' I said, "Oh, that's a bad omen, that's what they played all the time the Titanic was sinking." So that, I didn't like that too much. Interviewer: That wouldn't be a good feeling. No, it was scary going out in that ocean when you knew it was full of submarines. We had a, we had an alert there, I don't know whether it was real or just a practice somewhere out in the Atlantic. But anyway, the sirens were going hoot, hoot, hoot, and we all had to get dressed and go down to our stations, you know. We had to, we had to carry our, our haversacks and that stuff with us you know and we had to carry our gas masks. I remember this one girl she, I always wanted to wring her neck anyways because every time we just get bedded down, you know there's a lot of noise on a ship, creaking and all that and she's all of a sudden she'd rear up, "I hear something, I hear a boat." "Oh, shut up." And then when we were getting ready to go down hurrying into our stuff to go down to the station, our station to where you could get on a life boat or whatever, and she says "Well, should we take our gas masks?" I said,"You'll look fine floating in the middle of the Atlantic with a gas mask on." Interviewer: Those are the stories you remember. Yeah, I just remember that barely, cause I was scared out of my wits. It's scary you know. Interviewer: Can you tell me about that, the fear that's going through a young woman's mind when she's out on that ship? Well there's always fear, anybody that tells you they're not in fear dear, I think they're making it up.

Mrs. Gilkes explains the fear surrounding the threat of submarine attack during the voyage overseas.

Margaret Gilkes

Mrs. Gilkes was born in Strathmore, Alberta on February 8, 1917 - the youngest of five children. Mrs. Gilkes joined the Canadian Women's Army Corp during the Second World War, and served as a motor transport driver. A role that was increasingly filled by women as the war progressed, in order to make more men available for service in battle. She spent the majority of her service in England, transporting troops and supplies. Postwar, Mrs. Gilkes became a policewoman, serving in the Alberta area for 15 years. Since her retirement, she has authored two books; Soldier Girl and Ladies of the Night, which depict her life during wartime and postwar service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Margaret Gilkes
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC)

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