Do­ing her part for the war ef­fort

Our Canada - - Commemorating Our Men And Women In Uniform - He­len Betsy Mitchin­son, Chatham, Ont.

I was born in St. Catharines, Ont., on July 5, 1925. My dad was a World War 1 vet­eran but didn’t speak much about the war ex­cept when at­tend­ing re­unions.

I re­mem­ber the day that the Sec­ond World War was de­clared. I had been at the lo­cal swim­ming pool, and on the way home, the news­pa­per boy around the cor­ner was hol­ler­ing, “Ex­tra! Ex­tra!“—the war was on.

I de­cided to join the Women’s Royal Cana­dian Naval Ser­vice (WRCNS) and re­mem­ber well the

first day of train­ing and re­ceiv­ing my uni­form: blue dress, navy blue sweater and cap.

I also re­mem­ber march­ing in the pa­rade square—i was be­hind a girl who didn’t know her left from her right and at times marched with both arms out! But we all did our best to keep in march­ing for­ma­tion.

As a mem­ber of the WRCNS, I was trained as a switch­board op­er­a­tor, tak­ing ex­ter­nal calls and di­rect­ing them to the proper naval of­fices.

I served at sev­eral Navy Re­serve Di­vi­sions. I first went to HMCS Star in Hamil­ton and then to HMCS Con­estoga near Galt, Ont. (now part of Cam­bridge), for train­ing. I was then sent to HMCS Pere­grine in Hal­i­fax and af­ter that to HMCS Dis­cov­ery in Van­cou­ver for a six- month stay. Af­ter that, I was granted leave, but soon enough was on the move again, this time to Mon­treal for a five-month de­ploy­ment. I was then sent to Shel­burne, N. S., and fi­nally to HMCS Stada­cona in Hal­i­fax.

Even though we were lit­er­ally help­ing to keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open, we didn’t hear much about what was ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing over­seas be­cause, as they said, “Loose lips sink ships.“

We were all so glad when the war ended. I was sent back to HMCS Pere­grine and from there was dis­charged in 1946.

I think what we did was pretty im­por­tant—all the ser­vices per­formed im­por­tant jobs in the war ef­fort.

He­len Betsy Mitchin­son.

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