I attended flight school in St. Catharines (EFTS) Elementary Training School before I went overseas. I was 3/4 through my course when I became quite ill. I didn’t know what I had, so I went to see the Medical Officer (MO). He tested for mumps. Imagine! The test for mumps at that time was simply putting something sour in my mouth. I could tell right away something was wrong because it smarted. The MO said to me, “Son, you have the mumps.”. I was in my early 20s at that time.
I was given a bed in the hospital to get better.. I was the only one in the entire hospital. I received very good care.
Once I had recovered, I had to make up for what I had missed. I was most upset that this put me back enough that I was not able to graduate with my buddies with whom I had studied with. I had already writen the exams, done all the flight test but my buddies went on to graduate and I had to stay behind. Not only would I miss graduation, but I would also miss the grad party to follow. There was only one thing to do. I asked the Co if I could join my group – old class for their graduation.
He said, ” no”… so I went to graduation anyhow.
It was at Port Dalhousie. Another fellow from my new class and I went to the party. We met a couple of girls there who were from Toronto. We didn’t want to send them home on their own and so we volunteered to escort them home across the lake to Toronto by ferry. What we didn’t realize was that there would be no ferry to get us back where we needed to be at night. So we had to stay the night in Toronto at my Aunt Sophie and Uncle Dan ‘s who lived at 140 Edwin Street. Since nothing I did surpised them – they took our visit in stride.
The next morning we came back to St. Kits to realize we had been declared AWOL (Absent without Leave). We were charged… it was like going to a court. What a scare! Fortunately the court saw our record was clean and so I did end up getting my commission anyhow in spite of the Toronto incident.
What was nice too was that this “new” crew of guys ended up being really great guys. those of us who graduated, received “our wings” is how the graduation was referred to. To graduate didn’t mean you automatically received a commission. Commissions were granted on the basis of marks. I guess my new group had so much fun together, however, of the 25 % who did earn a commission – half of us got our commission in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and the other half got their commission in Moncton, New Brunswick.
The announcement of my commission was sent to my home rather than directly to me. This procedure was the same for all graduates in an effort to prevent us from knowing who got a commission and who didn’t – this protected our dignity, privacy, and our parents from being disappointed or not.
All in all, our actions had been well worth the consequence I paid to be able to be with my buddies for a short while.