For the past 53 years Audrey Anderson kept the awful memories to herself, hidden from her four sons, her closest friends—even from her husband, who died in 1984. But the recent allegations of rape in the Canadian Forces have convinced Anderson, 72, that it is time to bare her secret. She wants other women to know that she too was raped on an army base, during the Second World War, and that her efforts to see justice done were futile. Since the end of the war,
« says Anderson, “I’ve never told a soul— s I thought I’d go to my grave with it.
I But when I read the stories in Maclean’s g and saw those girls on TV, I wanted I them to know that I went through S the same thing. I can’t believe that I nothing has changed.”
Anderson (her maiden name) was an 18-year-old Winnipegger in 1944 when she signed up for the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. After basic training in Kitchener, Ont., she and about 100 other young women from across Canada were dispatched to Base Borden, 90 km north of Toronto, where she was put to work cooking and cleaning.
About a year after her posting began, Anderson went on a date—her first ever—with a young private she had just met, a man who initially struck her as “handsome, quiet, unassuming.” They went to see a musical at the base’s movie theatre, but he wanted to leave after the intermission and suggested they go for a walk. As they passed a swimming pool bathhouse, he pulled Anderson inside and threw her down on the wooden plank floor. “All the time he was ripping my underclothes I yelled, ‘No, please no.’ The only words he muttered at me were ‘Shut up, slut,’ ” recalls Anderson. After the attack, she says, “He then stood up as if nothing was wrong and said, ‘Thank you, ma’am,’ and walked out.”
In shock, she stumbled back to her quarters, shaking and sobbing hysterically, her uniform bloody, her stockings ripped. A woman in the next cubicle convinced her to go to the medical officer—a woman—who examined her. The doctor told her to see her commanding officer—another woman. She did, and asked for a week’s leave to see her father and recover from her injuries. Anderson says she will never forget the response. “She told me not to tell my father, that it would only upset and worry him. She also refused my leave and said, ‘I’ll expect you on parade in the morning, private.’ ”
Anderson believes she knows why she was told not to tell her father. “Because he would have raised hell about it," she says. “They were trying to cover it up. They didn’t follow through with anything. I was waiting to testify, I was bugging the officers about when there would be a trial. But there never was a trial. He was never charged with rape.
He just got shipped overseas.” It took a long time, she says, before her life seemed right again. She had nightmares and woke the other women in her quarters with her screams. She lost her appetite and sank into depression. And when the war ended she quietly returned to Winnipeg with a secret she thought she would never reveal.
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