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Fort Williama Girls Military Band

Welcome Visitors!

This website is dedicated to my Mother Catherine Drew ( Johnson ) and friends, families and members of the Fort William Girls Military Band, Orchestra, and dance troop of the WWll era. The photos are at random but if you can name a band member or a person in a photo or want to post band photos on the site email us at [email protected] subject "band".


early orchestra photo 1938

bass fiddle...Thelma McCoy

piano...Catherine Johnson [Drew]

singer...Gladys Smith who sang a

beautiful rendition of Ava Maria.

Ethyl Round is playing guitar that is laying flat ( Hawaiian style ).

B. Killbank is playing the other guitar. They are both Epiphone electric guitars.

Maurice Jackson played saxophone as depicted in this post card. Mom

is standing behind xylophone but played piano. Maurice told her to stand there just for this post card.

This is a Great Lakes Girls Orchestra post card.

Catherine behind piano.

Dorothy McCoy on drums

Thelma McCoy on tuba

post card. Dorothy McCoy did a

drum solo in the song Sing Sing Sing

post card

post card

post card

reverse side of post card

post card

greeting the top brass

Maurice and Amelia Jackson

Directors for the band and orchestra and for the all girls marching pipe band called the


singer for the orchestra Gladys Smith in centre of photo


Dingwall in

centre of

photo , he was MC and equipment manager

Catherine and her best friend Lily David ( Upton )

Catherine at about age 13 She joined the dance revue portion at age 12 in 1936 and worked her way up to marching band( bass drum) and orchestra

(piano) until 1946.

Thelma McCoy and Catherine at about age 14 wearing uniform to play large bass drum in marching band

Catherine on right and I am trying to verify if the three girls are the three Kowalski sisters Sophie

Anne and


Ethyl Round

was in marching band (trumpet) and in orchestra

( electric guitar). She was a bridesmaid at Moms wedding.

Thelma McCoy and Dorothy McCoy and Catherine.‚Äč


nickname was "Bubbles"

Thelma McCoy and

Shirley D'Arcy and

Dorothy McCoy

Gladys Smith on left and Amelia Jackson

Shirley Darcy leading the band. Thelma McCoy on tuba.                             

CPR ststion

Waiting for the troop train. Catherine and niece Josie Roberts

Christmas Day 1945

CPR station in Fort William.

troop train arrival.

Josie giving a rose to a unknown sailor.

Christmas Day 1945

One of the troop trains the girls met were what Mom called the Hong Kong Vets.

The girls played many cities and the bus and the trailer broke down often. Here they are push starting the bus.

Lonny Dingwall


Smythe in suit. He made one trip with the band and wrote a book about the Jacksons.



Catherine and Thelma McCoy

The band went through several different names, some of which are

depicted in the photos.



Catherine on bass drum



The girls played in many cities. The dance revue and the marching band and the orchestra were all one in the same. Dance revue girls marched with the band usually in front with batons. Some as young as 6 years.

Girls that were in the marching band also played in the orchestra. Catherine played the large bass drum in the band and played the piano in the orchestra. Most of the girls could play several different instruments.

Some of the cities they played were : Fort William ( Orpheum theatre) , Trenton ( Air force base ),

Winnipeg ( playhouse theatre ), Steep Rock Mb, Duluth , Hibing, Lindsay. Brandon Mb,

Shilo training camp. The following pictures were taken at Shilo.

Catherine driving the Jeep

Shilo fire hall

unknown guard

at Shilo gate

unknown WACs


unknown WAC

unknown mens band at Shilo

These guys were taken out of a mess call lineup for this pic.

Fort William Girls Marching Band members so far :

Catherine Johnson

Sophie Kowalski

Anne Kowalski

Josephine Kowalski

Ethyl Round

Milly Porter

Lily David

Eileen Bangs

Marguerite Moors

Kay Baker

Elsie O'Kanski

Kay Oram

Margaret Peterson

Joan Allen

Suzanne Ganja

Joan Brassard

Gladys Smith

Shirley D'arcy

June D'arcy

Thelma McCoy

Dorothy McCoy

Margaret Doak

Shirley Killbank

Gertie Niefiadomy

Mildred McMartin

Geraldine Hogan

Doreen Hebert

Irene Bodnar

Geraldine Alexander

Johanna Phillips

Mable Kirk

Mina Kirk 

Shirley Colvin

Eileen Bodnar

Vera Denby

Elsa Anderson

Taimi Euren

Shirley Plater

Betty Wright

B. Killbank

Dance Revue Program.     Catherine only did one dance revue when she first joined at age 12

zoom to read

zoom to read

A few newspaper articles : click on photo then zoom to about 200% and scroll to read, zoom back to 100%

VE day,

close to midnight, some of the girls ran out to march in street clothes