I was still overseas in Ceylon (today it is called, Sri Lanka) when the war ended. Well, at least the German part of the war. I remember the boys and I were so happy – we did was every normal, red-blooded Canadian would do – we tore down the roof of the building were were in. Seems silly now, but at the time we were pretty excited to do that.
The Japanese were still a threat. In fact, it was at this time we were sent to England (note from Stacey: I’m not clear on this location as it was difficult for Dad to get the words out today) for bomber training. We were being trained to bomb Japan. I guess I was excited about the fact that I was going to learn how to fly Liberators (4 engines) and I really didn’t think too much about what I was really going to be doing. We were in England for only a short time at the Operation Training Unit when we heard the Japanese war was over too.
Once again, we were thrilled. Everybody knew the war was over. Everyone wanted at that time to get back home. Me, I couldn’t wait to see my Paula! I never made it into the plane to train but that was okay because we had so much fun celebrating the fall of Japan. Little did we know the devastation caused by the nuclear bombing.
When the war was ever everyone was given their walking papers. The money didn’t matter. We were happy. The plane-ride home was just like a bus route – there were so many of us leaving at one…. so many people getting out. This was something we had been looking forward to for a long time. We would first stop in our old barracks in Toronto until everyone and everything was “sorted out”. The St. Lawrence Seaway was lined with people celebrating our return. It was quite a sight!
We took a train and marched into the old barracks that we had vacated four years earlier at the Manning Depot in Toronto. The Horse Palace was the name of the old barracks if you can believe that! There, we stayed there until we were sorted out to head home. It was definitively a “hurry up and wait”.
The telegram of my arrival arrived before I did and I guess I was quite surprised but very delighted to see my parents when we arrived in Toronto. They were happy to see me believe it or not. (grin) I got a big hug from both of them. We all went together to Aunt Sophie and Dan’s house in Toronto. There was a big sign at their 140 Edwin Avenue home, “Welcome home Billy”. Aunt Sophie cooked a big celebration dinner with lot s of beer. (I used to drink beer then). I don’t remember what I ate, but I remember being quite happy to be eating home cooking again.
I made arrangements to go to Yorkton, where Paula was still training to be a nurse, as soon as possible.
She couldn’t meet me on the day I arrived in Yorkton. Uh-oh! She couldn’t get off duty. She said two of her nursing friends who were off at the time would come to the station to meet me – which they did. They took me to the George Hotel where I would be staying. Paula met me at the hotel. A good reunion?! You bet, “Yum- Yum! “.
We had arranged to be married long before then and had decided we would marry when she graduated but she hadn’t graduated yet. I bought her an engagement ring the day I arrived back from India. I was all set. But Paula wanted to wait. That was the longest wait of my life!
The war was over and my life with Paula was just to begin.