My time in the ATS and RAMC

When war broke out I lived in Ann Street, Gilford. At that stage I was too young to join the regular Army and consequently was still at home when VE day was celebrated, although in Chatham for VJ day.

Elsie Kerr (left) and Sister
Elsie Kerr (left) and Sister

My sister Ann and I signed up in Belfast. Ann enlisted with the WRENS and at first I was with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, (A.T.S). At first I was sent to Leicester for general training. We were given wonderful accommodation in beautiful rooms. Whilst there I met a Dr. Weir who noticed that I was able to take temperatures, read pulses and do respiration. At this stage I was working in the pay office and was bored with the work. Dr Weir was very busy, and asked if I would be interested in joining the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). First I was sent home on two weeks leave, after which I returned to Leicester for further training. Shortly afterwards I ended up in Aldershot at Cambridge Military Hospital. From there I was moved to Oxford Radcliffe Infirmary.

I was next sent to Wheetley Hospital, outside Oxford, where soldiers who had returned from war with serious head injuries were treated. My next move was to Derby City Hospital where I met Dr Leslie. He had received his medical training alongside Dr Alex Sproule, who was my own G.P. back in Gilford.

Finally I was transferred to the Military College of Science, at Shoreham – close to Oxford. There a German doctor, who was himself a prisoner-of-war, did relief work as a medical officer and we were sent to do POW sick parades. We also went to Wantage to deal with sick parades of captured Ukrainian and Polish POW’s. I was eventually demobbed from Shoreham in York in 1948, but kept in touch with some of my former colleagues. One girl recently visited me in Gilford.

I remember some other Gilford women joined the services. There was Catherine Orr (Lassie), who lived in the Vicarage at Stramore Road. She joined the ATS. Florrie Hagan, who lived in the end house of Dunbarton Street, joined the WAAF. Thora Doran joined the ATS, and Florrie Burns who later married Jack Nicholson joined the WAAF.