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5 Female Veterans to Remember from British Columbia this International Women’s Day

March 8th marks International Women’s Day. This is the day to take some time to remember those women who served our country during war. Here are five female veteran stories submitted by citizens in British Columbia and members of the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion. Each story can be found in a volume of the annual publication In Service of Canada, Military Service Recognition Book. Contact your local branch for the latest physical copy or download a digital version for free.

Jean May Rieger (nee Rogers)

Jean was born in Kelowna, BC on August 19, 1922. She enlisted in the Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force in June 1943. After completing basic training in Ottawa, Jean went to #2 TSU in Toronto where she trained as a clerk. During her service, she was stationed in Alberta at Vulcan and Penhold before being discharged in Calgary. Jean returned to Kelowna where she married Cap Rieger who had served in the Army in Canada and Europe during World War II. Jean’s sister Ivy also served in the Women’s Division of the RCAF, and her brother Bob served in the RCAF during World War II. Jean passed away in January 2011.

Her story can be found in the In Service of Canada, Military Service Recognition Book, Volume 8, page 287.

Janet Loughlin McQueen (McMorland)

Janet was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on January 15, 1923. After graduating as a Registered Nurse and Operating Room Nurse from Winnipeg General Hospital, she enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps as a Nursing Sister on October 25, 1950. Janet was posted first to Camp Shilo in Manitoba and then was sent to a British Commonwealth Hospital in Kure, Japan. She stayed there until October 1, 1952 when she went to Scotland via Canada to be married. Janet had been a member of the Legion Branch 167 in Lumby for thirty-one years before she died on September 23, 2009.

Her story can be found in the In Service of Canada, Military Service Recognition Book, Volume 10, page 305.

Joan Makowichuk (nee Lackey)

Born in Edmonton, Joan joined the RCAF in 1951 at nineteen years of age. As a leading Airwoman, Joan was a typist serving at St.Johns, New Brunswick, Trenton Ontario and Sea Island, BC. Joan recently passed away in Powell River, BC, in January, 2021, where she was a member of Branch 164.

Her story can be found in the In Service of Canada, Military Service Recognition Book, Volume 12, page 327.

Elenor V. Thompson

Elenor was born in Thompson Landing, BC, in 1915. She enlisted in WWII with the Canadian Army and served at Shilo, MB. She was a member of the RCL Branch #199 Edgewater. Elenor passed away in 1990.

Her story can be found in the In Service of Canada, Military Service Recognition Book, Volume 8, page 333.

Stella Shanks (nee Croma’Brose)

 

Stella was born in Kerrisdale, Vancouver in 1917. She enlisted in the Air Force in September 1941 and took basic training in Sainte Anne-de-Bellevue, QC. She then returned to Vancouver where she served as a Lance Corporal in the Woman’s Ambulance Corps enlisting, drilling and training 80 recruits at a time. Stella was then in a unit which trained in firefighting and was sent to England in 1942 on the Queen Elizabeth, the first Ladies Corps to be sent overseas. It was a top secret move so the Axis forces didn’t know reinforcements were sent to London. Stella’s unit was housed at a Lord’s estate for two years before returning to Canada in 1944. While she was stationed in London, she enrolled in courses at Aberdeen and Oxford Universities sponsored by the Legion. After Stella was released in 1945, she returned to Vancouver where she joined Legion Branch 60 in West Vancouver and served as Membership Chair. She moved to Vernon and then Parksville where she was a member of Mount Arrowsmith Legion Branch 49 until passing away in 2014. Stella was a member of the Legion for over 60 years.

Her story can be found in the In Service of Canada, Military Service Recognition Book, Volume 8, page 305.

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These stories and more can be found in one of the volumes of the annual publication In Service of Canada, Military Service Recognition Book. Contact your local branch for the latest physical copy or download a digital version, both are free.