Ross of he Canadian Women’s Army Corps (C.W.A.C.)
Pipe Band on the deck of a surrendered German
“E”-boat, Wilhelmshafen, Germany, 4 October 1945
Although the Canadian Women's Army Corps
were not an
infantry regiment, and as such did not take part in the
Massed Pipe Bands playing at the Victory Parades, their pipe
band did play an important role amongst all the Canadian 1st.
Army pipe bands playing overseas, in Europe.
The Canadian Women's Army Corps
Pipe Band was formed
on August 8, 1942. Lillian M. Grant of Victoria, British
Columbia, was recruited as the band's pipe major and given
the task of founding the new CWAC Pipe Band. The Pipe Band
and its sister ensemble, the CWAC Brass Band, was intended
to improve the perception of women in the military and
encourage more women to join the forces. At full strength,
the CWAC Pipe Band consisted of 27 drummers and pipers.
Following VE Day the Pipe Band travelled to Europe to
entertain the troops, performing mainly in England, Holland,
Belgium, Germany, and France
act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims,
France, and ratified on 8 May in Berlin, Germany).
Members of the Canadian
Women’s Army Corps (C.W.A.C.) Pipe Band, Wilhelmshaven,
Germany, 4 October 1945. (L-R): Piper G. Ross,
Lance-Corporal M.D. Hain, Drummers M.E. Schenck, E.I. Hogan,
Piper M.F. LaFramboise, Drummer J.A. Anderson, Piper I.J.
April 4, 1992 Pipe Major
Lillian M. (Grant) Davis wrote to us the following
“I shall be pleased to give you information on the Canadian
Women's Army Corps Pipe Band of which I was the organizer
and Pipe Major.
The nucleus of the band came from British Columbia where six
pipers and four drummers began practising in the old Hotel
Vancouver. In 1943 we went transferred to Ottawa where we
picked another six pipers and four drummers.
The band played a heavy role in recruiting and morale
building for the Canadian Forces. After a recruiting tour of
Canada covering over 100 cities and towns, we repeated the
same tour, more extensively, the following year. In the
spring of 1945 we were sent to Pennsylvania U.S.A. to
promote their War Bond Drive. While there we played in 25
cities and towns to hundreds of employees outside factories
and indoors at concerts and rallies.
On returning to our base in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada we
were given the great news that we were to be transported to
Holland! Apeldoorn was "home" for seven months. We were put
up in a place called "Jasper Lodge" which was across from
Wilhelmina Park, if I can remember correctly. I do not
recall the street name as the roads all had army
connotations and ours was known as "London Up".
The extension at the
back of "Rustoord Talma Elim", at Koninginnepark 13,
You can also see it sticking out on the left behind the
building on the photograph below,
The front part of Talma
Elim, the C.W.A.C. Pipe Band's Holland Home: "Jasper Lodge"
We were very excited to be in Holland. Everyone was
wonderful to us. One of our girls was married there and our
next door neighbour graciously loaned us a beautiful lace
table cloth for the reception. And our weekly visit from a
handsome lad with his wheelbarrow full of gorgeous tulips
was always a special highlight for us.
Of course„ our tours of duty took us to Paris and Brussels
and to the Canadian units in Germany, but we were always
glad to come back "home" to Holland.
I don't know if you would like to hear the number of towns
we visited in your wonderful country. I would think about
25, where we would play a parade on the village square.
(and this is
from my diary):
On Aug. 10, 1945: Practised for sports day at Nijmegen.
Drove through Arnhem. What a terrible mess. It rained at
rehearsal. the Japanese capitulated that day just after we
played for our first time in Holland.
Aug. 11 Sports meet at Nijmegen. Beautiful day.
Canadian Women's Army Corps (C.W.A.C.) Pipe and Brass
Bands preparing to take part in C.W.A.C. anniversary
march past Apeldoorn, Netherlands - August 13, 1945.
Aug. 16 Declared a holiday VJ day. All wars over now !
Started out for Amsterdam and trucks broke down so stayed in
Amersfoort instead, and back home to Apeldoorn at night.
Aug. 17 Rained, so trip to Zeist and Soest cancelled.
Aug. 18 Parade and concert at Deventer.
Aug. 20 To Almelo for concert.
Aug. 23 and 24 Finally got to Zeist and to Soest for
Hengelo - August 25,
Aug. 25. Hengelo for concert on street. Great audience
Aug. 27 To Nijmegen and visited Number 1 Canadian General
Hospital where we visited the patients after playing
At this point we were sent to Aldershot, England but were
soon back in Holland -- on Sept. 5th.
Sept. 9 to RIJSSEN. Played around grandstand in sunken park.
Sept. 10 Up early and off to GRONINGEN for a week. Arrived
at noon. Dinner and off to No. 6 General Hospital. Supper
and off to AKKRUM. We did 306 miles today.
Sept. 11 to BOLSWARD to play for the Cape Breton
Highlanders. Played in a cow field and then back to town.
The C.W.A.C. pipe band marching along the
street beside the canal in Bolsward during their visit to
units of the Fifth Canadian Armoured Division in Holland.
Members of the Cape Breton Highlanders are watching the
Sept. 12 GIETEN to visit the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
Concert in Groningen Market Square.
Sept. 14 to HARLINGEN - At 10 in the mooning we had a parade
and a march past and inspection of the Tank Corps who are
leaving for home with 2nd Div. The last big inspection in
North West Europe. On to FRANEKER but cancelled because of
rain. GRONINGEN for a broadcast, then over to meet Peter Mak,
a concert pianist. Lovely boy, lovely home.
Canadian troops taking
leave of Holland - Harlingen September 14, 1945
Sept. 15 WINSCHOTEN Played at big field with tiny
grandstand. Lots of Dutch people in attendance. They love
the bagpipes. They call them "doodlesacs"
Sept. 16 SNEEK for a church parade. We never saw so many
people trying to get entrance to the church. Paraded back to
Sergeants' Mess. Had dinner. On to VEENDAM. Played in a
field across a little bridge.
The Perth Regiment, led by the C.W.A.C. pipe
band, marching to a church parade at Sneek, Holland.
Sept. 21. SCHERPENZEEL At Cameron Highlanders. It rained so
cut programme short.
Sept. 22 to ALMELO to a horse show. Played at the grounds.
Sept.. 25 BUSSUM Played at 3 different companies, and at a
Sept. 27 LAREN - Played to about 100 fellows.
to Germany until Oct. 13
Oct. 13 to AMSTERDAM for a few days holiday.
Oct. 15 I bought a beautiful eyelet embroidered baby's dress
Oct. 16 AMSTERDAM went to a wonderful concert by Myra Hess,
known as the best woman pianist in the world.
Canadian Women's Army
Corps (C.W.A.C.) Pipe Band parading through Amsterdam,
Netherlands, October 17, 1945
Oct. 20 UTRECHT - to play at opening of football (rugby)
Oct. 26 HILVERSUM - to a Casino for our first indoor
Oct. 28 DOETINCHEM - Church parade with Fort Gary Horse
Regiment. Long march and one-hour concert and were then
entertained to tea by the Dutch Army girls.
M. Lillian Grant piping Major-General Keefler, G.O.C. 3rd.
Can Div. and the Burgomaster into the Utrecht Town Hall for
a farewell ceremony.
Oct. 29 UTRECHT to play up to the Town Hall where we met the
Burgomaster. It was a Farewell. to the 3rd Division. I
played General Kiefler in to the tearoom. The wonderful
Dutch people waited outside one hour wile the band had tea.
When we came out the crowd wanted us to play up the
doodlesacs again, so we did.
C.W.A.C. pipe band passing the Town Hall
during ceremony at which the people of Utrecht said goodbye
to the troops of the 3rd. Can. Div.