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Air Force Girls In Rescue Teams

Icelandic Roots Genealogist Doreen "Kristy" Kristjanson shared the following story from the Icelandic Roots database:

Anna Louise Peden (IR#57177) served in WWII, in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the war, she went back to school, graduating as a nurse in 1949. Anna then rejoined the RCAF as an Officer in the position of Royal Canadian Nursing Sister. In 1951 she graduated from the Para-Rescue Association of Canada. She was part of the initial group of Para-Rescue Nurses in the Air Force.

Kristy drew attention to this newspaper clipping found in the Sherbrooke Daily Record 20 Oct 1951. The article was included on Anna’s page on Icelandic Roots:

Photo of headline
Photo of headline

This is a partial transcription of the article:

“Air Force Girls In Rescue Teams"

“Jasper, Alta. – The air force calls them ordinary Canadian girls, but they’re a lot more than that."

“The girls who are members of the R.C.A.F. parachute rescue teams are trained to parachute into the wildest bush country without regard for life and limb in their mission of bringing rescue and relief to persons in difficulty in remote sections.”

“They can hop backwards down the steepest cliff faces, negotiate rivers by raft or canoe, handle an ax with the dexterity of any man, cross any glacier or wrest a living from the bush if necessary.”

1945 Anna in uniform with L-R father William, mother Sarah and brother Doug Peden
Anna in uniform with (L-R) father William, mother Sarah and brother Doug Peden in 1945

“All are R.C.A.F. nurses…(including)…Anna Louise Peden, 30, of Victoria, B.C…(who)…is a sister of the famous six-day bike racers Torchy and Doug Peden…”

The story continues describing the training, stating they “are taking the special parachute rescue course at Edmonton and Jasper. It is the first time women have been trained for this type of work in Canada.”

“The training is intense. It includes 401 hours of practical and classroom training, of which 65 hours are devoted to physical training.”

Before this special training, Anna had graduated from nursing school as an RN. She continued her nursing career after serving in the military, retiring in 1984.

The entire newspaper article:


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