Although most enlistees from Newfoundland and Labrador joined the British Armed Forces during the Second World War, many also served with other Allied forces. Harold Lester Pittman of Random Island, for example, had been working in a coal mine at Sydney, Nova Scotia when the Canadian Army drafted him for service overseas. Servicemen with the 7th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers check for mines on a road in Bergues, France. Similarly, some men from Newfoundland and Labrador working in the United States when war broke out served with the American Armed Forces.
Although enlistees served in American and other Allied forces, determining their exact number is problematic as enlistment records only exist for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the British and Canadian Armed Forces.
Service in other forces created particularly special opportunities for women from Newfoundland and Labrador, who were unable to enlist for military service until May 1942, when the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division (RCAF-WD) sent a recruiting team to the island.
Although the National Defence Headquarters of Canada first investigated enlisting women in June 1940, it was not until the following summer that the RCAF created a Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, which it renamed the RCAF-WD in the spring of 1942. An unidentified airwoman models the uniform worn by recruits with the Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division.
The Canadian military believed that by enlisting women for clerical and other noncombatant roles, it would make more of its male recruits available for service on the front lines.
While doing much to help bridge the gap in gender inequality, women who enlisted for military service faced considerable discrimination from both within and outside the forces. The first military organization to begin enlisting women in Newfoundland and Labrador was the RCAF-WD, which sent scouts to St.
The first draft of eight recruits departed for Ontario on 14 July 1942, and hundreds more soon followed suit.
Unidentified telephone room personnel with the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division at work in St. Ursuala Sybil Loder of Random Island, for example, joined the RCAF-WD in July 1942 and studied meteorology in Toronto.
Following the war, the RCAF-WD discharged all servicewomen and dissolved on 31 December 1946. The Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) began recruiting in Newfoundland and Labrador in the summer of 1943. Following the war, and despite the wishes of many women to remain in the military, the Canadian Armed Forces disbanded the CWAC on 30 September 1946.


The third branch of the Canadian Armed Forces to enlist women from Newfoundland and Labrador was the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS). A group of new recruits with the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service prepare to leave St. The WRCNS sent new recruits to Galt (now Cambridge), Ontario for basic training at the HMCS Conestoga, a brick building which formerly served as a rehabilitation school for girls. Following the war, the WRCNS discharged all recruits from military service and disbanded in the summer of 1946.
Prior to British colonialism they had never been subjugated or conquered by another people. Most notable was the Canadian military, which recruited 1,160 men From Newfoundland and Labrador. Although Pittman was under no obligation to enlist because he was not a Canadian citizen, he joined the army and served in the European theatre.
This was the case with Maxwell James Bryant, who moved from Hickman’s Harbour to Boston in the 1920s and acquired an American citizenship. However, at least four of the country’s recruits died while serving with other Allied forces. Prior to this, women wishing to contribute to the war effort did so in a more conventional manner, as nurses, civilian workers, or volunteers with the Red Cross and other charitable organizations.
Servicewomen earned smaller salaries than their male counterparts, could not serve on the front lines, and only received allowances for dependent parents, brothers, and sisters, not for husbands. Most enlistees received basic training in Ottawa and then proceeded to Toronto for trade training. From September 1942 until 24 March 1944, Loder worked as a Plotting Officer at the combined headquarters of the RCAF and Royal Canadian Navy in St.
The corps accepted British subjects between the ages of 21 and 55 who measured at least five feet tall, weighed no less than 105 pounds, had a high school education, were physically fit, and had no dependent children.
Recruiters arrived on the island in 1943, and by the end of the war had accepted 74 applicants, all between the ages of 18 and 45. Many of these recruits had been living in Canada when the war broke out and decided to join its armed forces rather than fight in the British military. However, while mining a bridge on 21 July 1944, Pittman died when the mine unexpectedly exploded.


During the Second World War, Hickman joined the United States Air Force and fought in Burma (now Myanmar). By the end of the war, 524 Newfoundland and Labrador women had joined the Canadian military.
In the general public, meanwhile, a myth persisted that servicewomen were immoral, reckless, and frequently returned home pregnant and unmarried. Recruiters accepted women between the ages of 21 and 49 who had a Grade 11 education (later lowered to Grade 8) and could pass a medical examination.
Initially, servicewomen with the RCAF-WD could work in one of nine trades – as clerks, stenographers, cooks, transport drivers, equipment assistants, fabric workers, hospital assistants, telephone operators, or in an administrative capacity.
John’s, where she marked the positions of torpedoed vessels, convoys, and aircraft on a large map of the Atlantic Ocean. Most recruits attended pre-basic training in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they received uniforms and submitted to medical and dental examinations. During their four weeks of basic training, recruits practiced drill, learned naval customs, and performed other tasks.
Nonetheless, almost 50,000 women joined the Canadian Forces during the war, including many from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Women could not apply if they were married and had dependent children, or worked in permanent positions within the civil service.
Following this, recruits completed a month of basic training in Kitchner, Ontario before specializing in various army trades.
They then either assumed operational duties within the navy, or completed additional coursework to prepare for various trades. By the end of the war, the RCAF-WD had enlisted 260 women from Newfoundland and Labrador – more than either the army or the navy. Although the majority of CWAC servicewomen worked in clerical roles, many also served as switchboard operators, lab technicians, dental assistants, military writers, photographers, mailroom workers, cooks, drivers, and laundry workers. WRCNS recruits worked as coders, drivers, teletype operators, stenographers, postal clerks, stewards, cooks, messengers, laundry attendants, and in a variety of other noncombatant roles.




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