Recognizing Wellington North women who served in military

WELLINGTON NORTH — County resident Gail Donald wants to make sure the women of Wellington North who served in the military get the recognition they deserve.

Donald, a member of the Wellington North Cultural Roundtable, wrote to Wellington North council documenting area women who served.

In a phone interview, Donald said women served where they were allowed to. For instance, in the First World War, a lot of women worked as nurses.

Soon after the First World War ended, Wellington North local, Alice Cook died serving her country.

“Nursing sister Alice Cook of Mount Forest gave her life to the service of injured and ill soldiers in a wartime Toronto hospital, dying of influenza at age 25,” Donald wrote to council.

Women were also active in the Second World War, when their service was more common. They drove trucks, flew planes, and worked at more important roles than before, she said.

“There were women, for instance, who flew the airplanes that were manufactured from the manufacturer’s place to wherever they needed to be for the pilots to fly them during the war," Donald said.

“By World War II, although women were not allowed to serve in combat, they took on many crucial roles in the various services both in Canada and in Europe. Women of Wellington North were well represented in nearly every branch," Donald wrote.

During the Second World War, one Wellington North woman, Erie Mae Jackson, was an officer.

“Erie Mae Jackson of Conn, a prolific writer throughout her life, especially of biographical and autobiographical books, joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in 1944. She rose to the rank of Sergeant and qualified as a Non-commissioned Officer. The Wellington County Museum holds her writings,” Donald wrote.

For some women, joining the military was something many of their family members did.

“Several women followed their brothers or cousins into service. Pearl Ida Day joined the CWAC, in Toronto, while her four brothers served overseas. Mildred Colwill, who also enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps, in 1942, was the sixth member of her family to serve in the Army,” Donald wrote.

There was often only limited information on these military women.

Information on these women could be found in the National Archives, through what members of their families know, or what was known of the women serving in other roles, Donald said in the interview.

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com