Keeping the Home Fires Burning
It was not often that Dad was away in the evenings, but tonight he had gone to a meeting. I noticed Mum seemed a little uneasy and made a point of locking the doors, something that was not usually done.
Shortly after she finished helping us with lessons, we saw a car coming in the driveway. Our dog, Pal ran to the door with the hair bristled up on her back and started to bark. Once she heard footsteps approaching and voices, her tail started to wag as she recognized the visitors were Gramp and Gram.
Gram sat down in the morris chair by the stove and Gramp seated himself at the end of the table. He looked around the kitchen and then asked Mum, “Are you keeping the home fire burning tonight?”
She smiled and replied, “I am trying to.” “Thank goodness it will only be for a couple of hours.”
I had no idea what this adult conversation was about.
When Mum was hearing my prayers and tucking me into bed, I asked her what did it mean.
She thought for a few moments before saying, “Stories are told of the horrors of war and of the brave men who went to fight but little is heard of the lonesome wives who were at home, rocking the babes at night. These women kept the home fires burning as they patiently waited out the deadly game, until the wheels of the war stopped turning and their husbands were home safe again.”
In 1990, Ruth Scott of Fredericton decided to write about her experiences on the “homefront” - what it was like to be the wife of a soldier who had served overseas. The result was a 134 page publication, ‘Keeping the Home Fires Burning: A Story of Fredericton, New Brunswick in World War II'.
Ruth Scott was born in Saint John, the daughter of Annie McAllister and the Reverend Roscoe Heine who spent his winters in Saint John receiving the immigrants who came from all over Europe. The remainder of the year he worked for the Canadian Bible Society bringing the gospel to the lumber camps of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Annie McAllister was the great granddaughter of James McAllister who had come from Glassgow, Scotland in the 1870s to set up a dyeworks for a Saint John company. Roscoe Heine was born in Millstream, Kings County, the son of a well-to-do farmer.
Ruth was visiting her half-sister Alice who lived in Douglas, York County when she met Bob Scott of the Mouth of Keswick. The decision to marry was made during her vacation from nursing in the summer of 1937.
At the beginning of the Second World War, they were the parents of fifteen month old Eric and living in a little apartment in the house owned by the farmer who Bob was working for. Daughter Brenda was born in June of 1940. In November of 1941, the family moved to a flat in South Devon.
In April of 1942, Bob joined the army and was stationed at Number
District Depot in Fredericton, where he learned how to be a soldier.
Ruth Scott paints vivid impressions of being a “grass widow” during the years that Bob was overseas. On a soldier’s wife allowance of $77.00 a month she tried to make ends meet. Her flat was heated by wood. She also needed wood for the kitchen stove which became very scarce and high in price. A real chore was piling it in the woodshed. Her stories of disciplining the children, packing boxes to be sent overseas, rationing of food products, visits, visitors, recreation and dances at the Gaiety gives us further insight into the war years of being a soldier’s wife raising two children in wartime Fredericton.
Finally the “Good News” came that on the 9th of May, 1945 at 12:01 hostilities would cease and an armistice would be signed.
Bob came home in late October.
Drawing on old letters, newspaper accounts, reminiscences of friends and her own memories, Ruth Scott has written a personal narrative of the war years in “Keeping the Home Fires Burning”.
Morgan: I am searching for information about John Morgan (Senior) who died about 1819 and John Morgan (Junior) who came from Glamorgan, Wales to New Brunswick in the late 1700s possibly via U.S.A. The Sunbury County Petitions 1765-1823 shows a John Morgan, Loyalist in 1785 asking for land on the Rusagonis Stream. Other petitions for 1792, 1805 ask for grant of lots 16,18 and 20, which they have improved, also on lots 15,17,19, east side Rushagonish River. I haven't seen John's name on any Loyalist lists, but the first Land Petition indicates that he was a Loyalist. Three sons of John Morgan II, Thomas, Enoch and Alexander with their wives and children, were in Upper Caverhill Settlement, York County, at the time of the census of 1851. Does anyone have information on either John's wives and other children?
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