Margaret Haliburton

A Canadian HUF DUF operator spoke to students about women’s role in the war.

As Centennial College students and faculty took their time to remember, a war veteran shared her experiences as a HF/DF (high-frequency direction finding) operator in the Second World War.

Margaret Haliburton, 89, was one of the first to hear about Adolf Hitler’s death. The message was transmitted in code where a woman with a German background deciphered the message, she described.

“We came back to households that treated us as the children we were as we left, as the saying is ‘we left home as a child and came back as a man or a woman,’” she said.

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During the war women took part in the home front, where young women joined the forces to produce arms and to collect intelligence. It was a time where everyone was equal regardless of gender and socio economic status, Haliburton described.

“The equality was gone. I had full equality when I was in the Navy. I was working with girls who were extremely rich and extremely poor. We were equal.  When we went home the differences showed,” she said.

A lot of soldiers came back ended up homeless, some even came back with shell shock (or also referred to as post traumatic stress disorder) and were not getting treatment for their condition.

“A lot of hurtful things where said about them, and I always told them ‘if you see them homeless or drunk, just remember the hell we went through,’” she said.

Margaret Haliburton joined the Royal Canadian Navy and served as a WREN (Women’s Royal Naval Service) and she currently speaks to people about life as a Canadian woman on the home front.

Lest We Forget.

-Ani H.