at Fethered. My parents ran a small grocery store. I had one sister and three brothers. Because of the poor economy and the hope for more opportunities for the children we moved to England.
Shortly afterward the war (World War II) broke out. I joined the RAF (Royal Air Force). I was just twenty years old. England, reeling and unprepared for the enormous task of halting such aggression, mobilized while defending the island. Canada and all the other Commonwealth countries rallied to the cause. Canada offered to take and train service men and especially the RAF under our 'open skies' under the BCATP. I found myself en route to Canada aboard the Aquitaine. A long train trip from Halifax brought me to Penhold in Alberta (No. 36 (RAF) Service Flying Training School). It seemed unreal that Canada could be such a huge country--and we were so very far from home!
The training was hard and we were not used to such severe winter weather. The barracks that housed us were very large and cold but we enjoyed the friendship of Canadians, had plenty of food and the recreation facilities were great. I was boxing champ of our unit until I married and my new bride vetoed this 'sport??'. She had a ringside seat at my first show and, unfortunately, I took a bad punch in the nose!
Am I getting ahead of myself and my story? A wife, you say. Yes, I had to have special permission from the RAF to marry. It was a custom and a kindness from Canadian families to invite those far from home to spend their 'leaves' with them for holidays. At Xmas I was one of those lucky ones invited to Edmonton for supper and a visit to the city. Here I met Marian Elmquist, a very lovely Canadian girl from Hardisty (Alberta), who was employed at Woodwards. I knew my destiny, God willing, would be in Canada and more particularly in Hardisty. So, we were married.
Soon I had to return to England and the hell the British people were having to endure. Britain was being attacked constantly. I was with a Fire Brigade stationed at air bases. It was a grim task to stand by when planes returning from raids over Europe came in, sometimes forced to crash land badly damaged with wounded and dead aboard. If they could not dump fuel or ammunition, this added to the danger of our job. Sometimes, we had to fight fire and rescue the crews. We did have asbestos suits which we wore for hours, always ready. Some memories of those years will haunt me forever as we were not always successful.
It would be four long years before I was to set foot again in Hardisty where my wife and I began our life together. Albert Elmquist, Marian's father, sponsored my return. While I was gone, Marian had continued working and had bought a house for us. This was no easy task as my pay in the RAF was much less than that of Canadian boys which made her spousal allowance much less, too. No words can express how it felt to be stepping from the train in the middle of the night to be greeted by my new family. I was back in a free and friendly country where the skies are always blue.
It is true that the Canadian economy was suffering a post-war slump so I worked at a few different jobs while getting my feet on the ground. I first clerked at a local grocery store. I had had some experience at home. Then, as my father-in-law was a railroader of long standing, I went to work as a brakeman. He had served in France in WWI with the Canadian Railway Troops providing supplies to the front line and bringing back the wounded. On his return to Canada he had continued to work for the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railroad) when an opening came up. The railway work itself soon went into a decline. Coal was replaced by oil as fuel for the engines and crews were let go. Fortunately, at just this time Hardisty was chosen as the site for an Inter-Provincial Pipeline Company pumping station and I was able to start work there as a yard man. Over the years I advanced to utility man and then to station operator. In 1982 I retired, after 28 years, to our very nice home in Hardisty. A son, Patrick, born in 1947 became a lawyer and a daughter, Maureen , born in 1952, became a RN (registered nurse). We have six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
This has all happened to me because of the war: an Irish lad sent to a new land to train for war, returning after the war to put roots down and raise a family in a small town in Alberta. I am a proud Canadian now showing my age a bit but still enjoying the life and times in Hardisty.
Please welcome me in your Museum History.
Partrick passed away on November 20, 2007 at the age of 90 years. His wife, Marian, passed away on June 16 2010 at the age of 86. We certainly appreciate his interesting submission to the museum. It has been placed in the Archives were it will be safe and available for viewing.
Patrick Madden with wife Marian on left and sister-in-law on the right.
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 033 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
A World War II Memory - Patrick Madden
This wartime memory was received by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in December 2000.
CORPORAL PATRICK J. MADDEN RAF 9** 9**
MEDALS AWARDED: DEFENSE MEDAL, 1939-1945 GEORGE VI SERVICE MEDAL, FRANCE STAR, GERMAN STAR,
I should very much like to have a spot in your collection of stories of servicemen who fought for freedom in World War II. My involvement brought me to Canada under the BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan). "It's a long way from Tipperary", Ireland, where I was born