stories in year of the war bride
Burp sent word to Mum that our family was invited to a farewell party
for her daughter Etha who was leaving to take up residence in England.
She had fallen in love with and married the previous year, a serviceman
in the RAF who was stationed in Moncton, New Brunswick.
I thought parties were meant to bring happy memories but all the way
home, Mum wiped tears from her eyes as she talked of a mother’s sorrow
and worry in having a daughter move so far away from home, even though
Dad told her it was expected that about forty other war brides would be
accompanying Etha on this voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1945.
There were probably many tears shed in 1946 by mothers on the other
side of the Atlantic Ocean as thousands of young women who had fallen
in love with Canadian servicemen left for Canada as war brides.
Although the food that was served was delicious, travelling across the
ocean either alone or with children, was not a pleasant journey. But
for many who were brought up in cities, the worst was yet to come when
they reached their husbands and entered their living quarters and found
no electricity, no running water, no indoor plumbing and no inside
toilets. To add to the distress, many discovered the home that had been
described to them did not meet their expectations. Others had to cope
with in-laws who gave them the cold-shoulder as they would have
preferred their “boy” had married one of the girls from “back home”.
The thought of, “How did I get myself in such a mess?” must have
crossed the minds of these girls who were now living in a strange
country without the support of relatives and friends.
Some of the young women were fortunate to find their situation in this
foreign land with the cold winters was beyond their greatest dream.
Love blossomed while the sound of the patter of little feet blessed
Here it is sixty years later and the year 2006 has been declared as the
“Year of the War Bride” to
honour these ladies.
Melynda Jarratt of Fredericton, wrote her master's thesis on war brides
and has been researching and writing on the subject since 1987.
Her desire to tell the stories of war brides has become a labour of
love for her and led into her volunteer work in developing a web site
in which much information plus links have been posted, including her
complete thesis which can be downloaded.
In one section of the web site you will find stories of the Canadian
War Brides, of love, war and the romances that led to 48,000 marriages
between Canadian servicemen and their British and European brides, with
the vast majority of them coming to Canada in 1946.
One of Melynda’s stories is of Anna Lavigne of Bathurst a war bride who
had a lot of adjustments to make when she moved to New Brunswick: as
one of only 26 Italian women to marry Canadian soldiers during World
War Two, this bright and resilient woman overcame barriers of language,
class and culture - not to mention homesickness - to make a rewarding
life for herself and her family in northern New Brunswick. Anna
came from a prominent family in Avellino, Italy, where her surgeon
father was well known for both his groundbreaking surgical techniques
and as his compassion for the poor.
The war was a terrible time for the Perugine family. After the
liberation by American soldiers in September 1943, Anna and the rest of
her family moved to an apartment in Necoliano, not far from
Avellino. It was during this period that the Canadians came to
Avellino and, as fate would have it, Anna met her husband Aurele.
Over the next three years the two courted and, in June 1946, they were
married. On November 12, 1946, one day before Aurele's birthday,
Anna arrived in Halifax on board the Lady Rodney. Aurele was waiting
for her there and the two went on to Bathurst. Anna was still not able
to speak English fluently, but Aurele's Acadian family did their best
and Anna was welcomed with open arms.
For the first few years, she and her husband and their growing family
lived in the tiny Acadian fishing community of Shippigan where Aurele
and his brother operated a hardware store. Shippigan became
Anna's new "home" in Canada, and it is a place which she still holds
dear to her heart.
In comparison to other war brides who may have had a difficult life in
New Brunswick, Anna considers herself to be very fortunate indeed: I
consider myself very lucky. I was lucky in finding Aurele.
He is such a good [man].
On Melynda Jarratt’s Canadian War Brides web site at http://www.canadianwarbrides.com/
you will find not only stories like Anna’s but many links to other
sites filled with information on these ladies who for “love” left their
homes and families to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to take up a new
life in Canada.
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Ruby M. Cusack is a
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contributes a "Family History" column to the Telegraph-Journal on