Alice Strike

By SHAWNA RICHLER

Born and raised in Surrey, England, Alice Strike was just 17 when the war broke out. She took an office job with the British Army in the nearby town of Godalming. "It was all beautiful countryside," she recalls. "It was a lovely place."

Being an airfield, it was also an exciting place. "She saw a fair amount of bloodshed," notes Percy Buzza, her son-in-law. "In those days, most of the landings were crashes. And she was at an airfield where there were Zeppelin bombers. They were something to see."

Early in the war, she fell in love with a young man from Winnipeg named Jim Stobie. "The first time she saw him, he was riding a horse," says Mr. Buzza, who is married to her daughter, Kathleen. "That's what caught her eye." She was 20 when they married, and after the war she went to Winnipeg with him. They had four children, and he left his job as a firefighter to serve in France during the Second World War while she stayed with the kids.

In 1957, her husband retired and, with the children grown, they moved to Vancouver. But he died a year later, so she moved to Banff to work as a housekeeper. It was there she met and married a fisherman from the Queen Charlotte Islands.

"She didn't like the life of a fisherman," Mr. Buzza says, and the marriage soon ended. Ms. Strike returned to Vancouver and then, with the arthritis in her legs worsening, moved to Dartmouth, N.S., so Percy and Kathleen could care for her.

Now, she is in Camp Hill Veterans Hospital in Halifax, where she is alert and spirited despite being hard of hearing and in a wheel-chair.

She speaks fondly of the social aspects of war, of falling in love and making friends, but is reluctant to speak of the violence she witnessed.

"War is war and there's troops all over, so you're always meeting different people," she explains. "But there are certain things you just can't forget about the war, certain things that happened."

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