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Elinor Florence (Company name) Elinor Florence

Ten Wonderful Wartime Women

These ten wonderful wartime women, four of them still living, volunteered to serve their countries in World War Two. Please read their stories and remember our veterans, today and always.

Eugenie Francoeur Turner, Royal Canadian Air Force

I’ve written many stories about both men and women during wartime. You’re welcome to read them by searching the Wartime Wednesdays index on the right side of the page.

Among them are these ten stories, beginning with four wonderful wartime women who are still alive and well in Canada today.

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RCAF Airwoman Worked on D-Day

Eugenie Francoeur Turner, pictured above, who lives in Kelowna, B.C. and is just two weeks shy of her ninety-eighth birthday, was one of the few women in the Royal Canadian Air Force chosen to travel overseas and serve on a bomber base in Britain. There she witnessed horrific crashes, dodged bombs, and worked around the clock on D-Day. It was the most exciting time of her life. Here is her story: Eugenie Turner.

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Merle Taylor: Maven of Morse Code

When this Manitoba farm girl joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, she proved to be such a whiz at Morse code that she was assigned to instruct the air crews. At the age of 97, Merle still lives on her strawberry farm at Lochaber, Nova Scotia where she raised her five sons. In 2013, Merle received the Governor-General’s Caring Canadian Award, honouring volunteers who have made a significant contribution to their community and country. Here is her story: Merle Taylor.

Merle McIntyre Taylor, Royal Canadian Air Force


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RCAF Photographer Yvonne Wildman

There’s a reason why it’s called The Greatest Generation – and Yvonne Valleau Wildman of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, now aged 97, is a shining example. She had a hardscrabble childhood, served her country as a photographer with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War, farmed for six decades, and raised seven children. Read her story here: Yvonne Wildman.

Yvonne Valleau Wildman, Royal Canadian Air Force

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Iris Porter Served in Egypt

Plucky Iris Porter of Calgary, Alberta, now 100 years old, served with the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. For two long years, she slept in a tent in the burning Egyptian desert while doing payroll and accounting for hundreds of Royal Air Force members stationed throughout the Middle East. After the war, she married another veteran and the couple emigrated to Canada, where she raised her two daughters. Here is her story: Iris Porter.

Iris Inwards Porter, Women's Auxiliary Air Force


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Flyer Was No Shrinking Violet

Canadian women were not allowed to fly aircraft in the Second World War. However, Violet Milstead of Toronto was a ferry pilot, one of the elite few Canadian women who flew with the Air Transport Auxiliary in Great Britain. She flew forty-seven different types of aircraft, including fighters and bombers, from factories to airfields. Violet continued her career as a bush pilot after the war. She died in 2014 at the age of 94. Here is her story: Violet Milstead.

Violet Milstead, Air Transport Auxiliary

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Nursing Sister Healed War Wounds

Jessie Lee Middleton of Abbotsford, B.C., who died in 2019 at the age of 102 years, nursed our Canadian soldiers in Britain, Italy, and Holland. Stationed at field hospitals not far behind the front lines, Jessie and her fellow nurses treated the most horrific injuries and earned the respect of all. Here is her story: Jessie Middleton.

Jessie Lee Middleton, Royal Canadian Medical Corps


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Willa Walker Led the Way

Willa Magee Walker of Montreal rose rapidly through the ranks to become head of the newly-formed Royal Canadian Air Force’s Women’s Division. Just 31 years old, grieving the recent loss of her baby son, her husband far away in a German prison camp, Willa rose to the challenge with courage and dignity, opening the doors for future generations of women in uniform. Here is her story: Willa Walker.

Willa Walker in RCAF uniform, photo by Karsh

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Ship Named for Canadian Nurse

On October 13, 1942, a German submarine torpedoed the SS Caribou, a civilian ferry travelling from Canada to the Dominion of Newfoundland. Within five minutes, the ferry sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. Heroic nurse Margaret Brooke from Ardath, Saskatchewan, valiantly tried to save her friend Agnes Wilkie from drowning. For her heroism, Margaret was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. On her hundredth birthday in 2016, Margaret Brooke received a telephone call from the Minister of National Defence, who informed her that a new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship would be named HMCS Margaret Brooke in her honour. She died a few months later. Here is her story: Margaret Brooke.

Margaret Brooke, Canadian Army Nursing Corps

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Australian Nurse Survived Massacre

After a bullet from a Japanese machine gun tore through her body, Australian nurse Vivian Bullwinkel floated face down in the sea and feigned death. She was the sole survivor of the 1942 Bangka Island Massacre, in which 22 nurses were forced to wade into the ocean at gunpoint and then shot in the back. She was later captured and endured years in a prison camp. In 1947 she testified at the Tokyo War Crimes Commission trials. Here is her story: Vivian Bullwinkel.

Vivian Bullwinkel, Australian Army nurse

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The Woman With the X-Ray Eyes

When I began to research my novel Bird’s Eye View, about an aerial photo interpreter in World War Two, the woman who really made the most impact – not only on my book, but on the world we live in today – was the brilliant, beautiful Constance Babington Smith. Most people haven’t heard of her, but she is credited with finding, on an aerial photograph, the first V-1 flying bomb. Her discovery set back the Nazi plans to annihilate Britain using the first jet-propelled weapon of mass destruction in history. Here is her story: Constance Babington Smith.

Constance Babington Smith, Women's Auxiliary Air Force

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Best Wartime Fiction

I’m often asked to recommend my favourite wartime fiction, so here is a list for your enjoyment: Best Wartime Fiction.

Best wartime fiction

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Friends, I hope you will participate in the Remembrance Day ceremonies this year, either in public or at home. Time is growing short for our remaining war veterans, and they need to see and hear your gratitude before it is too late. I’ve written many stories about men and women during wartime, and you may read them all on this website by searching the index under Wartime Wednesdays on the right side of this page.

We shall remember them.


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