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Christmas Dinner

Heroes Remember

We were promised that we would have a turkey and a real Canadian Christmas dinner which seemed wonderful, so we were all excited about that. Anyway, we... the ward I was on that time as I say had 250 up patients. So what we had done, we had a... was a long long, long corridor. So we had all... we got tables and we put sheets on and we had the patients come there for their dinner. We got chairs. I don’t know where they came from and a lot of us candy from home, cigarettes and some decorations and stuff, so we fixed up the table and we thought we had it pretty nice. We had our Canadian cigarettes and a lot of us didn’t smoke very much and we used to give it to the boys. We figured they needed it. Not only did they need it, they were used to it, but also the English cigarettes were expensive and they were awful. But anyway, we saw that everybody had two or three cigarettes and we had fixed up a nice table and that was fine. So after they had their dinner at noon and the officers served the men and that was fine, and then just when we were going for our time off, go to get our lunch, the nursing sister from across the canal, she worked at what would be an outpatients, she phoned and she said, “The orderlies are having a Christmas dinner at 3 o’clock,” she says, “and it’s bare tables.” She said, “We can’t give them bare tables and just a Christmas dinner and no decoration. Can you find anything?” So three of us got going. One went to the MO’s and the sisters to see if we could get some more candy, cigarettes, whatever and another one went for... get the table cloths. See what we could do with that and then we went over and helped her set up the table. We got it all set up. We didn’t have time for lunch because we had to go and help her. Well, that was alright. So we came back and we got a cup of tea, I think, but we... everything was fine and we did have a nice table for the orderlies because the orderlies were so good. We just couldn’t have won the war without them. They were just great. So that was fine and then it was time for us. All the sisters were to be together to have their dinner at our mess. So, because we had been on duty the four of us or six of us, I guess there was four from our ward and then Jeannie was from outpatients, who’d called for help. There were four or six of us. We were the last to get there. The table was set like an “E”, you know, like this, and down here and we were sitting at this just at the end where the great pots were of potatoes and turkey and gravy and everything. So as they were going along, they couldn’t be served because we had to... there was no room. So we just passed them along. So we were getting kind of tired, passing them... they had to go up and down this way and up this way, When it was coming down the “E” one of the girls said, “Those pots sound empty.” And we said, “No, they couldn’t be.” And she says, “Won’t be any left.” We said, “This is Christmas. There will be enough left for us.” Got down to the bottom and there was nothing for the four of us or six of us. It was just empty. Well anyway they went out and they got us some spam and we had dehydrated potatoes and hard peas and everything and I don’t know whether we got any dessert or not. It may have been prunes, but it struck us so funny. So any way that was that. We thought, if we had just put our thumb in and take a little bit, you know, as it went by we would have had a dinner. But however, that, I think, was very good for all of us there because we realized how we stress so much on the dinner and how lucky we are to have a good dinner and yet, those of us at the end, who didn’t get the dinner... we probably had a much better meal than a lot of people out in the country. Far better meal. So I’ve never made any fuss about food since.

Ms. MacAulay recalls what was supposed to be a traditional Canadian Christmas dinner.

Kathleen Jean MacAulay

Ms. MacAulay was born in Meadowville, Nova Scotia on January 2, 1917. She attended school in Meadowville in a one room school for grades 1 - 10. Then she went to nearby Stellarton for grade 11 and New Glasgow for grade 12. After attending Maritime Business College for a year, she left and went to Halifax to train as a nurse at the Victoria General Hospital. Ms. MacAulay graduated as a nurse in 1941 and enlisted to go overseas. Ms. MacAulay made the four day voyage on the Queen Elizabeth and landed in Scotland. Shortly after arriving, she was sent to Bramshott where she worked in the operating room and in the ward from Oct. ‘43 to July ‘44. From there, she went to Whitby for a short period before heading over to Normandy. Ms. MacAulay ended up in Germany at the end of the war and was there for part of the occupation. She met her husband, a Canadian soldier, in Germany and was married to him in Jan. ‘46. She returned to Canada aboard HMS Rodney in June of ‘46.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Kathleen Jean MacAulay
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Nursing Officer
Nursing Sister

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