Celia Weiser is an example of how an engagement notice in the social pages of the Canadian Jewish Review provided an initial confirmation that a servicewoman was Jewish and identified her married name.
Celia had to leave school at 15 to help at her father's delicatessen. The military provided her with a way to get away from a financially challenging life and to do something for the war effort. Two of her brothers also served in the Second World War.
In January 1941, 6 months before the Army accepted women, Celia was a sergeant-major in the women's paramilitary group the Canadian Women's Service Force. Celia later enlisted in the Army and then joined the Naval Forces in 1943 and completed training as a wireless operator. Fellow Wren, Dorothy Robertson, in her memoir of her war experience, noted that Celia was the one of the first Wrens to arrive in spring 1943 to the newly established Naval Radio Station Gloucester. Officially named Number 1 Station HMCS Bytown, it was located just seventeen miles south of Ottawa, but three miles from the nearest highway. Except for three sailors assigned for maintenance duties, the rest of the personnel were female. Shortly after it was finished, the Navy discovered that the Ottawa area was not suitable for the after-midnight reception of overseas wireless signals. This resulted in the building of a new station called Coverdale, near Moncton, New Brunswick. Although many of the Wrens at Number 1 Station were transferred to Coverdale, Celia and three other Wrens volunteered to remain at Gloucester Station. Celia held overall responsibility for the direction-finding hut.
Gloucester played an important part in the war by helping Allied convoys avoid German U-boats. The key function of the station was to identify the whereabouts of German U-Boats through direction-finding equipment. The Wrens would listen for Morse code messages transmitted from the German submarines. To accomplish this, the Wrens were trained in Morse code, the call sign of the German navy's coastal stations, how to separate the traffic from U-boats from that of the shore stations, and how to use direction-finding sets.
To get to the direction-finding hut, Celia had to cross five farmers' fields and squeeze through barbed wire fences, all while carrying food, water, coal, and paper. Celia was one of a very few Jewish Wrens (between ten and fifteen have been identified so far), and at times felt that she "must be the only Jewish girl in the Navy." An athlete, Celia was a member of the Wrens of Coverdale softball team.
In the spring of 1943 Celia was engaged to Flight Lieutenant Ralph Wolman whom she had met at the Jewish Canteen in Toronto. They married in June 1945, and a few months later Celia was discharged from service. Celia and Ralph initially lived in Toronto and then settled in Florida where they raised three children. When her children were older, Celia took an insurance course. She then commenced a career selling insurance to residents of trailer parks.