MEMORIES OF YOUNG DIVISION NO. 2
“Our backyard (224 West 2nd St) backed onto this estate which we knew at the time (1940-46) as the Young Estate before it was handed over to the R.C.A.F in 1943 for rehab of airforce personnel.”
The above comment was in response to a wartime photograph of Auchmar on Vintage Hamilton.
Frank Fordham Recalls the Social Life of the Servicemen.
“… He (Dr. Voelker) encouraged them to attend dances that were held over in the pavilion…”
(There were many volunteer women who accompanied the men to the dances).
“Yes. Now, but the only thing, they couldn’t have a drink. They had to abstain from any alcoholic beverages. However, servicemen have a way of working around that.”
Frank Fordham shared his memories of the war years in 2017 at the Voices of Auchmar Speakers Series.
On October 9, 1943, the first seven airmen and staff transferred from Beaumaris to Auchmar. Among the airmen were Warrant Officer Dan Taylor, and Warrant Officer Bill Carrey. The staff included Flight Lieutenant P.A. Voelker, M.D., Nursing Sister Hazel Hughes, a specialist in burn treatment, and Corporal Alice Vousden, who happened to be the mens’ favourite cook. Corporal Perkins was also assigned to Auchmar. Squadron Commander Len Dunham would be the Commanding Officer.
The men created an in house newsletter, The Auchmar Tonic. The issue dated April 29, 1944, describes how they built and planted a Victory Garden. Images survived of the airmen bowling, curling, cycling and cross country skiing. The men made use of the extensive collection of books in the library at Auchmar.
They would listen to classical music on the record player while relaxing (possibly remarking on how fortunate they were). Smoking was permitted. Drinking alcohol was not.
Saturday evening dances were held. The airmen enjoyed the Joe Charles Band and the music of the day. June Cooper, who was a teenager at the time, would visit on dance nights. Perhaps she danced with the men but she took the time to help them write letters home to family.
With the closing of R.C.A.F. No. 2, and the airmen dispersing, some got together for a lighthearted yet serious farewell. Friendships would live on for the remainder of their lives. The following is the Last Will and Testament of Auchmar.
“Young Div. Hosp. has gone to its reward and naturally leaves behind a few material objects as well as a host of spiritual principles…
“… I now have the honor of reading to you, the beneficiaries, the Last Will &Testament of Auchmar.”
“I, Auchmar, do bequeath to Beth Forbes the key to fond memories of the Physio Room.
To the Hobby Shop – Jack, Mike & Larry – any stray parts of Dr. Voelker’s grandfather’s clock which might still be lying around the hobby shop.
To Harry Embleton – any tools he had left over & vegetables namely potatoes providing same will be dug up by one Harry Embleton.”
To Ms. Hughes – a long distance call to Dalley to congratulate them on not having forgot anything.”
The above is excerpted from Last Will & Testatment of Auchmar (author unknown) written in 1946.
It is part of the Dr. Philip A. Voelker Family Papers. It was transcribed by his daughter Maggie Voelker in April 2017.
The photographs of courtesy of the Doug Embleton Collection, Maggie Voelker, the R.C.A.F. Collection and Terry Geissler.