Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
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A World War II Memory – A War Bride
Doreen Balkwill (nee Stone).
George went on to more training at Yorkton Saskatchewan and McDonald Manitoba. He was deployed overseas with the 6th Bomber Group. Our little girl was one month and 15 days when he left. I had two younger brothers serving overseas in the army and also three brothers-in-law overseas in the air force. Two sisters were in war related work. The family kept my parents and me busy helping keep in touch with letters and parcels. We saved all candy bars, gum etc. to send to the boys.
We tried not to worry but the tension was always there. We learned of a friend’s son’s death and my youngest brother was severely wounded and flown back from Germany to England. It was devastating. We were fortunate all our boys came home. George went over on the ``Queen Lizzie’’ packed like sardines. He came back earlier after the war in Europe ended on the Strathenden as he volunteered to go to Japan. Our mail was censored and quite often had parts cut out. Often you wouldn’t hear for weeks and then you got a lot of mail at once. I belonged to the Service Club ``Contact’’ and enjoyed it but my husband was overseas and all the other husbands were posted to local army camps in Shilo and Brandon – so I had little to relate. I stayed with my parents with baby ``Joan.’’ My mother knit many pairs of socks and sweaters for our ``lads’’ overseas. Coming back to Brandon, we built our home in 1946 – in which I still live and raised our family of two boys and three girls.
After the war, George worked for a short while for the DVA (Department of Veteran’s Affairs) Hospital as an electrician then for Brandon Post Office until retirement. We belonged to the 502 Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association and the Legion, both in Brandon. George was a Founding Member of the (CATP) air museum of which he was so proud.
George passed away on March 10 1994 at age 83.
So I feel we had a little part, on both sides of our families - the Balkwills and the Stones - in the war effort to keep our country free.
George and Doreen Balkwill were lifelong friends of my parents Paul and Beth Sigurdson. My father was a veteran of the WWII Canadian Army and spent time overseas as well. He too was hired by the DVA Hospital - as a carpenter. This is where the friendship began. Both George and Paul moved on to jobs with Canada Post where they worked until retirement. After the war, Canada’s Crown Assets sold off much of the infrastructure built to train our forces. In Brandon, the army had a training camp which housed trainees in dozens of H-Huts located in the south end of town. George and Paul, each bought a quarter of an H-Hut, moved it on to lots in the city and renovated them into wonderful comfortable houses – with used nails and gyprock also purchased from Crown Assets. One of my favourite memories of George is being at Ditch Lake where both families had cabins. We had an old multi-band radio which was capable of picking up the telegraph traffic between Dauphin and Brandon. When asked, George, because of his wireless training which had not been used for nearly 20 years, gleefully was able to decipher the Morse messages as they were sent. He did admit however that the speed of these messages was faster than what he was used to in the RCAF. Although he didn’t understand 100% of the content of the messages, he was able to understand good portions of them.
Our parents were happy and determined to make a good life – I believe their success at this was a result of the motivation they were given by the hard times they faced in the Great Depression and World War II.
This remembrance was submitted by Doreen Balkwill of Brandon Manitoba to the CATP Museum in December 2000 as part of our Oral History Project. She is the wife of Edward George Balkwill, a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. Doreen passed away on September 25 2008 at the age of 92 years.
I am a Brandon (Manitoba) born war bride. I met Edward George Balkwill at a Brandon Armouries Service Dance. George enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in Regina Saskatchewan and was housed in the old `C’ Barracks (Security Building) in Brandon Manitoba before the Manning Pool (No. 2 Manning Depot) opened in Brandon. After training here, he went to (RCAF Station) Jericho Beach Vancouver and No. 1 Wireless School in Montreal. He came to Rivers (No. 1 Air Navigation School) where he was crew of the ``Flying WAGs (Wireless Air Gunners).’’ Shadow was his nickname.
We married while at Rivers. The RCAF insisted that an airman obtained permission to marry and the bride submitted three recommendations confirming her suitability as an airman’s wife. The wedding was posted on the board. Our wedding date was July 12 1941 on a 48 hour pass.
The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (CVSM) with Bomber Command Bar was awarded to any Canadian veteran who served with Bomber Command during World War II. All Canadian members of the 6th Bomber Group received this medal and bar.