WREN. M.H. CHESNEY
Dear Eira :
I received your swell long letter not long before I left Galt, I knew I was on a draft so decided to wait until I found out my destination before writing. As you can see I came far enough, didn’t I? In fact only about 150 and I would be as far east as possible. I could write so much about it here and my trip I hardly know where to begin.
This is the larges Establishment in Canada, I can’t tell you how many thousand sailors are here, but there are more men than I have ever seen before or hope to see! The size of the place amazed and rather frighten me, perhaps I wasn’t used to seeing so many men, at first, however am getting used to it now. There isn’t a lot I can tell you about as our letters are censored. Our living quarters are very crowed, however new ones are being built and they should be a great improvement. We are also hoping to have our own mess.
I work in the Mechanical Training Bld., and certainly enjoy it. I work in the records office, which is most convenient. If I happen to go out with a stoker, all I have to do is look up in the records find all about him. Our hours are from 8:15 to 4:45 with an hour and 15 minutes at noon. Gee, its nice to sit back and relax while a sailor cleans the office in the morning, but I do feel sorry for him because I went through it all in Galt! We have drill 2 nights per week and turns in fire watch and duty watch.
I guess I’ll tell you a little about our trip here. Believe me it’s something I’ll never forget! What a time we had! We left Galt in the evening, arrived in Toronto about 11 oclock. Some relatives were at the train, and also a couple of girl friends from home. I phoned Donna from Galt to tell her I was going through, told her to give my married friend a hug. He sent word that he couldn’t make it to the station but wanted my address (terrible isn’t it?) The train was late so only had a few minutes. We arrived in Montreal the next morning very early – and as our train didn’t leave for St John ‘till 2:30 we had about 7 hours. We did a little shopping, and took a sight seeing tour around the Mt. It was all very exciting for me. There can’t be any Wrens in Montreal., people even stopped and asked us what we were, some thought us nurses. Well, we got our train to St John at 2:30., and found our car nearly full of Navy. Some Br. seaman entertained the four of us ‘till dinner. After dinner we played cards with some Sub-Lieuts ‘till and old Lieut Commander came along with a bottle! Result – a very happy party which last ‘till around 3 or 4 A.M. The Commander asked me to have a drink, you know me tho’, I said, “No thank you, Sir” They wanted to drink to the Navy so he nipped to the end of the car and got me some water to drink with. I made an exit as soon as possible after. A very nice Sailor at the end of the car came to tell me how he admired me. We became acquainted and had a most interesting evening, and anything but dull! He was O.R. and I learned that we were both going on the same ship across to Digby. So help me! I’ll never forget that night! It was sure a rough sea! Everyone was getting into the wrong bunks and such a commotion! It was time to get up before some even got to bed. We arrived in St. John very early, took a cab to the docks, had breakfast aboard. I didn’t eat much as we were told it was one of the roughest waters to cross, however for me it was calm and no one was ill which disappointed the boys! We were 3 hours crossing and I enjoyed every minute of it. We were convoyed across with air craft. Saw a destroyer, small craft and sub. in the distance. We were told not to be alarmed if we saw a sub as there was one in the Bay. I spent most time on deck and altho was a beautiful morning cool enough for a burberry. Our Lieut’s and Commander were also aboard! Its a good thing we had a good time when we did, we can even speak to a Looy now! My sailor was on Naval Patrol, but we had the last hour of the trip to-gether. Believe me there is no place like a train or boat for a romance! When we arrived in Digby we had to wait about 40 minutes for our train here. We were on the Halifax train, so it was terribly crowded with service men and we had to stand all the way. We surely had a great time. My sailor thought he was going to be sent to sea again but is hoping to get a 48 before he goes.
This is real Navy life in every way and so different to an inland Establishment. The country is very beautiful (when it isn’t raining) Sunday afternoon we walked along the bank just a few steps from our dorm, to watch the tide come in and for all the thousands of people, it was amazing how quiet and nice it was.
We have plenty of entertainment – golf, sailing, swimming parties, shows every nite, dances. The Staff of the Mechanical Training Bld are having a big dance Wed. and the Wrens are having one on Thursday. There is always something to do. Digby and Anapolus are about the 2 miles nearest towns, Anapolis is very pretty but small, and not much doing. It is very historical, however, as is the 2nd oldest town in America. They have a very fine museum and we were taken through this on Saturday. We had supper at a rather nice café but had to wait an hour and ½ to be served. Every place around is just over run with Service people. After supper a couple of sailors took my girl friend and I to the one and only show in town.
Digby is a rather dirty little fishing town, but has a very nice Hostel for the Wrens.
The 2 girls I went around with in Galt and whom I believe I mentioned before were drafted to Vancouver. They sure were happy about being sent West and everyone envied them. Did I tell you I am in “Ships Company” and that means permanent staff. It was quite a shock as I thought I would only be here about a month on a course.
How is the dear old P.F.A.? Working as hard as ever, and getting no where fast I suppose, just like old times. How is our little Faith? Has she been phoning you again. Why the heck didn’t you go to Wolseley if you had a chance. Mom and Dad would be glad to have you any time, they find it rather lonely with just Beth. Vera was down last week end. She is working in Moose Jaw now. Believe she is working for Swift’s and likes it very much.
Well, I really must sign off. I started this last night but didn’t get it finished before lights out, and now I have to dash for an hour drill, and then have a date to go for a walk with a little sailor. Write soon eh, and give me all the news. Isn’t it wonderful that Italy has surrendered. Maybe this will be over before we think. Am enclosing a snap that was taken in Galt. It is terrible tho’. Our white hats are not becoming, but we have our Navy blue now. My uniform wasn’t tailored, but it will give you a general idea. Some one has just told me we have a muster after drill, we always seem to be having them. It is probably to tell us we are not to hold hands with sailors! I have heard it in two musters since I came a week ago. Must go.
Give my regards to your mother and dad.