Glenside ladies aid in war effort

Submitted by: Janet Prpick, daughter of Elmer and Theresa (Anholt) Wunsch

In October 1944, seven young ladies from Glenside, Saskatchewan boarded a train heading for the big city of Toronto. The war was in full swing and these ladies opted to help with the war effort.

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The list included my three aunts Gertie (26), Nellie (24), Mabel (19) Anholt along with two Glubis sisters Rose and Emily, Nelda (Tud) Harrington and Gene Barron.

With guitar in tow, Mabel strummed with the beat of the train throughout the evenings. The sweet sound of the Anholt sister’s harmony entertained many passengers. What an adventure for these young prairie ladies!

The General Engineering Company picked up these seven young women at the Toronto train station and took them to private homes where room and board was supplied. A company bus picked them up in the morning and when their shift ended returned them to their homes.

The Anholt Sisters: Nellie McPhee, Gertie Lawrence, and Mabel Eliason

As I sat with my Aunt Mabel she told me of her recollections of their experiences working in the ammunitions factory. They worked on the gun powder side assembling five inch nose cones to the base including connecting wires and fuses. They put shells around the edges being careful not to touch the gun powder.

Later they moved to the high side where the explosives were assembled. Nellie ended up using a rivet gun from which her sisters named her “Rosey the Rivetter.”

The ladies managed to find time to take in the sights and sounds including visiting Niagara Falls, a boat ride to St. Catherine’s and attending dances.

In 1945 the war ended, and their jobs were over so they returned to their prairie roots. However, Gertie and Gene were not ready to return to Saskatchewan and found a different job working in a tie factory in Toronto. It wasn’t long before Gertie had advanced to inspector however the drive to return home was too great. Eventually, both Gertie and Gene returned to Saskatchewan where all the ladies began the next chapter of their lives.

I was fortunate enough to be raised among the joy and laughter of the five Anholt sisters. Whenever they got together there was always lots of great conversation (some in Norwegian) and beautiful singing to end the day.

Of my mother and her four sisters only Mabel is still with us. At 96 Auntie Mabel is living an independent life and will always be admired by her nieces and nephews for her strength and perseverance.

© The Outlook

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