As prospects for the Allies were improving in
late 1944, John Ellis was assigned to Army HQ
in Belgium. One mission: locate a missing unit
of amphibious vehicles. While searching, he
came upon a hotel. The clerk said that German
forces still remained in the village.
John covered his jeep with hay, piled furniture
by his door, and kept his rifle by his side. During
the night, he heard the boots of German
soldiers on the cobblestones. By morning, they
were gone. During his unintended night behind
enemy lines, John wondered if he would be
captured. Reflecting back now, his own safety
was secondary: “I was fighting for the freedom
of the world.”
After all these years, Jessica Clayton remembers
the shoes and stockings. She laughs remembering
that when she saw the American women in the
Navy and Women’s Army Corps (WAC), with
their lovely silk stockings and black Cuban-heeled
pumps, it was easy to be miffed about her unit’s
old Oxfords and pea green stockings”.
As a drummer in the pipe band of the Canadian
Women’s Army Corps from 1942-1946, she toured
Canada and the U.S. and travelled overseas. The
band went on bond and recruiting drives, and
entertained soldiers. “It was the best time in my
life,” she says. An enduring lesson: “You never
know what’s around the corner in life, so go with
the flow.”
Fighting for Freedom Drumming Up Support
John Ellis, Crofton Manor
Vancouver, B.C.
Jessica Clayton, The Beechwood
Mississauga, Ont.