A SARNIA, ONTARIO woman has a Second World War mystery based in Terrace she wants to solve.Bev Walkling’s father, Ronald Place, a doctor, was briefly based in Terrace with a medical unit in 1942.
After his death, Walkling found several photos, one of which was a young woman with wavy brunette hair wearing a white short-sleeved shirt with Walkling’s father’s name on it stitched in writing on the left side of the garment.
A second photo is of Place in uniform with the young woman’s hands with fingers interlaced resting on his left shoulder.
“I would love to know who she is (or was) if anyone can help,” writes Walkling in an email to The Terrace Standard.
The photos were unexpected, said Walkling, describing her father as an introverted person who did not marry until two weeks before his 40th birthday.
“His siblings all said that they had never known him to have any girlfriends prior to Mom so these pictures were a real surprise to us when we found them,” Walkling continues.
Dr. Place did write letters home and one of them gave an insight as to his activities during his June 1942 to September 1942 time in Terrace with the 6th Canadian Field Ambulance.
In an Aug. 12, 1942 letter, Place writes of social activities:
“The Colonel arrived back Friday evening a day before we were expecting him. We were all getting ready for a dance at the time he arrived and I think he was pretty curious to know what we were all getting cleaned up for.
“He watched us for about five minutes, then broke down and enquired what was on. We all had a very good time Friday evening and we are planning to have something like a corn roast or something similar fairly soon.
“The girls are pretty scarce hereabouts, but we’ve done fairly well that way. The local Red Cross Society has been very co-operative and has provided a fair number while we’ve had a good turn-out from the Carter Hall girls.
“Carter-Hall-Aldinger are the contractors who are building the camp here; they’ve got fifty or sixty girls who have signed up as waitresses. The Carter Hall girls are mostly from Winnipeg and vicinity.”
Walkling says that’s the only comment in any of his father’s letters about women at all.
Terrace had a very small population at the time of the Second World War but that changed when the Canadian air force built the airport and the Canadian army based upwards of 3,000 men here, part of a strategy to defend the north coast should the Japanese try to invade.
Place went on to serve in Europe, returning to practise medicine in the Montreal area at the end of the war.
He died in Montreal in 2003 at the age of 91.
Those who might have information about the mystery woman can either write The Terrace Standard, 3210 Clinton St., Terrace, B.C. V8G 5R2 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Bev Walkling, email@example.com.