Sunday, 1 May 2011

War Brides

The afternoon of yesterday's workshop was a real treat. The topic was War Brides and we had two speakers who shared their personal stories with us. Our first speaker was Peter Jones.

Peter's mother, Helen, was a war bride. Her story was heart wrenching and Peter did an amazing job telling it and keeping us on the edge of our seats waiting to see how the story would transpire. Helen and her beau sought permission to marry, which in most cases was simply a "rubber stamp formality". Preparations were under way and then just before the big day, word came down that the permission was NOT granted and Helen's beau was shipped away. The family remain unclear as to the reasons, but feel that it may have had to do with Helen's dad and the forces believing that Helen may have been a "spy" For the next 22 months, permission was granted and revoked. Finally with the war coming to an end, permission was granted for a final time.
Helen and her beau had written numerous letters to each other over the 22 months that they were separated. Peter has over 340 of these letters in his possession. One day they will make a remarkable book!

Our final speaker for the day was Joan Johnson. Joan was a war bride and gave her first hand story of meeting, marrying and then emigrating with her husband. Joan talked of the culture shock and the hardships of her early life in Brantford. Joan read her story that she had published in Bridging the Gap. Her story will be re-published in our August newsletter, so stay tuned for that.

After Joan's enlightening talk on being a War Bride, she gave us her very personal account of how she has been effected by genealogical research. During one of her trips home to England, an aunt asked Joan about "Nancy". Joan enquired as to who "Nancy" might be and learned that Nancy was in fact her sister!! Several years later, Joan's son, Michael, a genealogy researcher set out to find Nancy. This was a long arduous task, but eventually, Nancy and Joan were reunited and have rebuilt their "sister" relationship. Joan's story was very moving and inspiring. A great ending to a great day!

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