CALL TO DUTY THE DAILY COURIER, TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012
A SALUTE TO THE OKANAGAN’S WAR VETERANS
Josephine Gobie Josephine Gobie grew up on a farm near
Lloydminster, Sask., and enlisted in the fall of 1940 when she turned 18. She was sent to London as a secretary with the Royal Canadian Air Force. For her and millions of Londoners, daily life included enduring the Blitz, from Sept. 7, 1940 to May 10, 1941. More than 20,000 civilians were killed.“My mom has a picture of her flat with all its win- dows blown out after one bombing raid that destroyed the building next to hers,” says her daughter Margaret Gobie. “Fortunately, mom was down in the shelters that night.” Despite the destruction it caused, the Blitz
was judged to have been a failure in that it did not significantly demoralize the British civilian population, or sufficiently weaken the country’s military to allow for the planned German invasion. Gobie was discharged from the service when the war ended in 1945. She had a long career as a nurse before retiring to Kelowna in the 1980s.
Daily Courier Photos by GARY NYLANDER
Gerry James Gerry James’ time as a prisoner of war was
short and near the end of hostilities, but followed by a return to active duty.
His reconnaissance unit came under attack near the German city of Minden in early April 1945. “They just blew us off the road, and I ended up in the ditch with two fellows who’d been hit pret- ty bad,” James recalls. Uninjured himself, he started tending to his wounded comrades when German soldiers emerged and took all three prisoner. They were added to a long column of prison- ers and kept on the move for the next few weeks as the Germans retreated in the face of the ad- vancing Allied forces. “We just kept marching during the day, and at night the Germans would find a place to herd us all in, like a barn or a schoolhouse,”James says. The prisoners were treated reasonably well
by their captors, he says, though that may have been due in no small degree to the fact the Germans knew the war was coming to an end. Liberated by some American troops later in
April, James believed he might be sent back to his native Great Britain.In
stead, he was put back into active duty, and was with the first British troops to meet soldiers from the Soviet Union on the Baltic Coast betewen Wismar and Rostock.
Eugenie Turner stands at the Cenotaph in City Park.
‘I was always afraid of getting buried alive’
Norman MacAuley Having walked 175 miles in seven days did- n't seem to impress recruiters when Norman MacAuley presented himself at a recruiting station.
When war broke out in September 1939,
MacAuley and his brothers walked most of the way from La Ronge in northern Saskatchewan to Prince Albert. They were told they had to wait to be called up, as they were among thousands of Canadian volun- teers waiting their turn to serve their country. In April 1942, he became a member of the 8th Canadian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. On April 4, 1944, he married Hetty Smith, who was a volunteer stenographer in the Canadian Military Headquarters in London. MacAuley went ashore in France just over
two months later in the D-Day invasion, and would not see his new wife again until after the war ended the following year.Ma
cAuley was involved in heavy fighting in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. After the war, MacAuley had a career in the RCMP and served in the Saskatchewan leg- islature as an MLA in the 1970s and early 1980s.
By RON SEYMOUR The Daily Courier
ot every young French-Canadian woman living near Montreal wanted to join the Canadian army during the Second World War. But there was no hesitation about en- listing on Eugenie Turner’s part. She volunteered as soon as she turned 19 in 1943.
“I was sort of sorry I was a girl to begin with,” Turner says with a laugh, recalling her relatively uncommon zeal to join the mili- tary. “The boys were getting all the excitement, joining up and going off to war.”
After being trained in telecommunica- tions, Turner was sent overseas and arrived in England in December 1943. “I was nerv- ous and excited at the same time because this was the first time I’d ever been away from home,” says Turner, an 89-year-old res- ident of Kelowna.
Turner was posted to a bomber base, and her duties include deciphering weather fore-
casts, and recording the names of every member of every flight crew on every mis- sion. “There wasn’t a one of them older than 25,” Turner says.
Of course, she sometimes got the first-hand news that airmen she knew personally had been killed in action. “Those were occasions that were pretty hard to take,” she says. When she was sent to London for advanced teletype training, Turner didn’t join others in heading for the Underground stations when the air raid sirens sounded. “I was always afraid of getting buried alive,” she says. “So I just would hide in a doorway some- where and hope for the best.” While in England, she met a young Winnipeger named Harold, and the two were married in York. Together, they had five children before Harold died while the couple was living in California. A resident of Kelowna since the late 1980s, Turner often finds herself reminiscing about her wartime experiences. “It’s so hard to be- lieve it was more than 60 years ago,” she says. “It seems like yesterday.”
I enlisted in 1944 and was assigned to the Canadian Women’s Army Corp. After basic training in Kitchener, Ont., I was sent to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa where I worked as a secretary. We worked our eight-hour days and were paid $1 per day. I was promoted to corporal, and my pay was raised by 40 cents.We were just happy to have a job. I was married in 1945 to Private Gordon Hislop, who had just returned from being wounded on the push on the Rhine, just after they had helped to liberate Holland. He and his officer were the only two sur-
vivors when their tank was destroyed. My husband passed away in 1979 and years
later, in 1995, I had the opportunity to attend the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland.We were so impressed with the kind- ness and hospitality shown to us as Canadians during our stay there. We visited many Canadian cemeteries, and
I found the graves of my husband’s friends and crewmates from the First Hussars who died on April 26, 1945, the day he was wound- ed when their tank was hit.We laid poppies on their graves and shed a few tears.
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