Margarita “Madge” Trull’s service in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRENS) during the Second World War was so secretive that had she ever divulged information about her job, she could have been shot or sent to a detention camp.
Trull spent most of her life carefully guarding this secret from those around her, even Trull’s mother passed away without ever knowing what her daughter’s contribution was to the Second World War.
This Second World War veteran disclosed her entire story as a German code decoder decades later as part of the Memory Project, an initiative of Historica Canada.
Trull spent her time during the Second World War in Stanmore, England, to decode German messages working on “Bombes,” large machines used for decryption.
“It was kind of hard on our nervous system, even though we were pretty young,” said Trull in her Memory Project interview.
Trull’s story is just one of the many stories captured by the Memory Project. Funded in part by Veterans Affairs Canada, the Memory Project consists of archived stories and veterans who share their stories with audiences.
“We invite veterans and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members to share their military experience with all Canadians,” said Brigitte D’Auzac, director of programs and development for the Memory Project.
Since its inception in the early 2000s, the Memory Project has touched the hearts of thousands of Canadians, and the Memory Project Speakers Bureau’s speakers make 1,800 visits each year.
These veterans from the Second World War, the Korean War, and even Afghanistan visit schools, universities and community centres.
These visits often leave a lasting impact on the younger audience, who are visited by veterans in full Legion uniform.
“Right away, the kids are silent, and they are just looking and are so impressed. Then they listen to the story, and after that, there is an unbelievable amount of questions. Everything from ‘What did you eat, were you cold, who was your best friend while you were there.’ They are so interested,” stated D’Auzac.
Currently serving members come to these engagements fully clothed in uniform, also leaving children full of awe and wonder.
The Memory Project is also a way of preserving the legacy of the older generations for years to come.
“It’s definitely leaving a legacy, a history legacy, of the men and women that went out and fought for Canada, and they’re being recognized, celebrated and commemorated,” said D’Auzac.
Also part of the Memory Project is an online archive of a collection of stories from Second World War and Korean War veterans. The archive contains 1,500 stories from the Second World War and 516 stories from the Korean War, one for each soldier who gave their life in Korea. Not only can visitors to the website hear the veterans’ stories in their own words, but they also see a collection of their memorabilia. Stories can be found both in English and French.
One of these archived stories is the heroic war efforts of Madge Trull.
To book a Memory Project speaker or sign up to become a speaker, visit the Memory Project website.