October 12, 1918 - March 10, 1947
Myrtle Hillier was born on October 12, 1918, the daughter of W. J. Hillier, manager of an oil company, and his wife, Gertrude, of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Myrtle was the third of five children; two of her brothers joined the Canadian Army. One sister was married and the second sister was still at home. "Family relationships were apparently happy."
Myrtle had a Grade X education, completed when she was 17. She did not repeat any grades and her best subjects were arithmetic and algebra. She worked as a machine operator (press and extractor) at Ajax munitions plant in Ontario for six months.
On August 20, 1938, Myrtle married Percy Richard MacDonald, a miner, who later joined the Merchant Marines. They had a daughter, Mary Margaret Mabel MacDonald. At some point, they separated.
When Myrtle's husband was reported missing, she enlisted in the CWAC when Mary Margaret was two months old. Mrs. Hillier then cared for her granddaughter.
Myrtle liked sports and played on a hockey team for nine years. She belonged to WA at church, and enjoyed reading detective stories. She weighed 110 pounds, stood 5' 2 1/2" tall, had blue eyes and light brown hair, plus she had a tattoo "Mother" on her left upper arm. "This is a short, slight girl with a boyish bob, blue eyes, mannish appearance and manner. Is friendly and appears anxious to do well. Her judgment is perhaps not good, but she appears fairly steady and alert. Expresses herself clearly and well. Her M score is low average and although her educational standing is fairly good, her verbal facility is not high. Enlisted as a driver and has had six years driving experience without any accidents. Is not interested in any other type of work in the Army. She is almost too small to be a good driver, but might be able to handle lighter vehicles." She was recommended in training as a driver or training in work of a mechanical nature not requiring high ability. Capt. F. Marguerite Hill.
In April 1943, just after her enlistment in Charlottetown, she contracted the mumps.
At No. 106 Depot Coy, CWAC Halifax, Lt. Edna P. Jamieson, Army Examiner evaluated Pte MacDonald in April 1944: "On completion of basic training in May 1943, MacDonald was given a six weeks course as Driver I/C at No. 3 CWAC (B) TC, graduating July 6, 1943 with a good report. Was posted to COTC Brockville, Ontario where she handled all types of vehicles including field artillery tractors and 3 T trucks. Served here until Deceber when she was granted a transfer to MD No. 6. Has been employed as a Driver at No. 106 Depot Coy, CWAC since December 30, 1943. Pte MacDonald is a thoughtful, conscientious, obliging worker who seems happy in her present job. Se has had no accidents in all her driving experiences which bespeaks for her carefulness." It was recommended she remain as a driver.
On June 25, 1943, Pte MacDonald was involved in a vehicular accident where she was injured. "In the performance of her duty, she had been riding in a 15 cwt truck in a seat next to the driver, Cpl Grenville, instructor, when they struck loose gravel and the vehicle was pulled out of control, causing it to strike a telephone post. She had a laceration which required no sutures and some abrasions of the outer upper quarter of the left side of the forehead, as well as a laceration of the second and third fingers right hand." Myrtle stated, "We were driving along a gravel highway about half mile east of St. Agathe on the 14th of June, 1943 at about 1515 hours, at a speed of about 20 mph. A DND vehicle, 15 cwt. I was map reading beside the driver. We came in contact with loose gravel and the driver lost control of the vehicle and we struck a telephone pole, breaking it off at the centre. It happened so quickly, I did not remember anything until a minute or so later. I was hanging out the door of the vehicle with my foot caught under the seat. My forehead and hand were bleeding." She had been out on a practical map reading scheme. The truck ended up in the ditch and also struck a wire fence. Cpl Greville skinned his elbow. The bill to repair the fence was $2.89 and to replace the pole: $46.95.
On July 8, 1944, Pte MacDonald failed to report on fire picquet parade. The next day, she failed to report at the Guardhouse for fire picquet duty, then was illegally absent from 0900 hours that day until 2150 ours July 11. She was absent 2 days, 12 hours and 50 minutes. She was punished with seven days' confined to barracks plus extra duties. On another occasion, Pte MacDonald was AWL: from 2300 hours 16 August 1944, returning at 0035 hours September 2, 1944. She forfeited 17 days' pay. She was also confined to barracks for seven days, with extra duties plus loss of late passes. Capt. Marial Mosher, signed these forms. [For more information about Capt Mosher, please visit the Facebook WWII Canadian Women's Project page.]
On July 17, 1944, Mrs. Hillier, Myrtle's mother, wrote a letter to the CWAC. She was 52 at the time of writing. "I have been caring for my daugther's baby since she joined the service. Owing to the state of my health, I would suggest her discharge from the service in order than she can take proper care of her child. I made this statement upon the advice of my doctor under whose care I am at present." Dr. Yeo of Charlottetown, also wrote a letter, dated July 10, 1944 to support Mrs. Hillier's suggestion. Mrs. Hillier had rheumatism and varicose veins with running sores.
Mr. T. Edgar MacNutt wrote a letter on July 24, 1944. "Mrs. Hillier informed me that she had sent a medical certificate to you in which her doctor stated her health made it difficult for her to care for a young child. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Hillier seemed to know very much about Private MacDonald's farm. They told me they knew she had bought some land at Murray Harbour, near Mrs. Hillier's sister in company with a girl friend. The latter is also in the CWAC. I was informed there was on house on the property. I asked how she was going to make a living and Mrs. Hillier said she understood she planned to pick blueberries. However, blueberry picking is only for a short time and she could not make her living that way for long. Private MacDonald has been separated from her husband since before the baby was born. He is now in Halifax, I understand, not doing much of anything. Whilst I was at the house, Mr. Hillier's son came in. He is a Sergeant, I think a Company Sergeant-Major, and has been awarded the MBE recently. He is on duty in Halifax, I believe, and possibly you could obtain information from him." Mr. MacNutt was the Secretary for the Children's Aide Society.
On August 4, 1944, a memo from the military secretary, Office of the Minister of National Defence: "Private M. MacDonald and Private M. B. St. Louis: Representations have been received from the marginally named members of the CWAC who have made application for discharge. It is stated that these soldiers were paraded before their OC but not receiving satisfaction requested an interview with their staff officer or station commander but were not granted this privilege. One of the soldiers is separated from her husband and has an 18 month old child which she left in care of her mother. Together, these soldiers have bought 5 acres of land at Prince Edward Island with the intention of starting a chicken farm as a means of livelihood after the war. They can borrow farm machinery and tools from a relative and have had many years farming experience. The grandmother who has the child is in failing health as a result of which she must hand over this care to her daughter. Our correspondent informs us that these women have not received sympathetic consideration of their case and that the idea of them making a living at farming has been somewhat scoffed at. It is stated that they entered the army with good intentions, that having to take over the care of the child has resulted in changing of plans and that they wish to be granted an honourable discharge."
Pte MacDonald's service number was W6524. Pte St. Louis's service number was W6523.
On August 23, 1944, Rev. A. LeDrew Gardner, Rector or St. Paul's Church in Charlottetown also wrote a letter to support Myrtle's discharge. "We entertain the conviction that Mrs. MacDonald's discharge might properly be hastened so that she might assume pressing domestic duties."
"A short, slight girl with boyish appearance and manner. She and a girl friend have bought land on which they hoped to have a chicken farm after the war. MacDonald's physical condition however, restricts the amount of standing and lifting she can do, thus making it necessary for her to seek sedentary work. She would like clerical training and has the necessary requirements in education and intelligence for such training. States that math was one of her best subjects at school so might concentrate on typing and bookkeeping rather than shorthand. A job in which she would have both would seem advisable rather than all typing." October 4, 1944. Capt. Edna P. Jamieson, Halifax. Capt Jamieson added, This girl has been advised to rest up for awhile on account of her heart condition. She will then consider a sedentary position." She was referred to NSS Veterans' Welfare Officer in Charlottetown, PEI.
"Because of mother's illness, she is no longer able to care for Pte MacDonald's baby daughter." Pte Myrtle MacDonald was discharged under 1029 (10) Code 0713 on October 6, 1944.
Myrtle MacDonald claimed, on September 17, 1945, that her disability was directly due to her military service. The Veterans' Bureau attempted to determine if her condition was incurred during service or if it was a pre-existing condition prior to enlistment.
On March 10, 1947, Myrtle MacDonald died at the Prince Edward Island Hospital in Charlottetown of chronic rheumatic endocarditis-mitral stenosis cardic. She was buried in the Charlottetown People's Cemetery.