Previously published in Examiner
Part 5 of the Rosie the Riveter series
Canadian women and the military during World War II continued
Many women wanted to be actively involved in the military. They fought for a women’s unit in the military. They won their fight, for in 1941, Canadian history, was forever changed. Women were able to serve in uniform. Over 50,000 women took up the challenge and served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
According to Veteran Affairs Canada:
The Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWACS) had 21,600 members.
The Women’s Division, Royal Canadian Air Force (WDs) had 17,400 members.
The Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (Wrens) had 7,100 members.
Canadian military nurses were very often in the combat zone. There were 4,480 of them and they were known as “nursing sisters.”
Nursing Sister Margaret Brooke was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her courage and bravery and her attempt to help save the life of Agnes Wilkie when the ship they were on, the S.S. Caribou was torpedoed and they were left clinging to a raft in the middle of the Cabot Strait. They were on their way to Newfoundland. Sad to say Agnes did not survive.
Quebec was not as willing to serve the cause
It is to be noted though that Quebec took a different stance to the war and did not have the same patriotic affiliation to Britain or even France for that matter. The passing of the Military Service Act, which required all fit men between the ages of 20 and 45 to enlist caused controversy in Quebec. The result was rioting in the streets of Quebec City and Montreal.
This however, did not daunt Montreal women. They joined the Women’s Volunteer Reserve Corps, stationed in Quebec and the Women’s Volunteer Reserve Corps a division of the Black Watch, in Montreal where they were trained in arms drill and physical conditioning.
To be continued