WAR BRIDES AND VALENTINE'S DAY
Did you know there were both female and male "war brides" - women who married servicemen were more common than men (also considered war brides) who married female servicewomen. Perhaps you've seen the old Cary Grant movie "I Was a Male War Bride", a 1949 comedy.
If you are interested in War Brides, Veterans Affairs Canada has a web page at https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/canadian-war-brides telling about the women (and men) who served overseas and came home with a spouse.
For centuries, some military personnel stationed in foreign lands returned home with brides. If you are interested, more information can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_bride.
Did you know (and here I quote from
Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day) "The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the "lovebirds" of early spring. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines")."
Putting the two ideas - War Brides and Valentine's Day - together, I thought this would be a fitting time to celebrate War Brides who left their homes and families, potentially never to see their relatives again, to sail off to a foreign land all for love.
Our thanks to Joy Miller, Marjorie Moir, and Tom Virany who have submitted information on some War Brides they've known.
Joy Miller provided information on two war brides, Hazel Kelley and Daisy Devine.
"Hazel was 15 years old when she met Doug Kelley 18 years old when he went to England with the Canadian Army. They were married on March 27, 2947 in her church (her father was a Deacon) in Bournemouth, England. They sailed for Canada on May 1947 on board the Equity. They spent 2 years renting from Doug's parents in Aylmer, Que., then lived in the Vet's project, then bought a house in Aylmer.
Richard, their oldest son was born in 1948, followed by David, Keith and Debbie.
Doug was wounded in 1944 and went back in 1994 for the 50-year anniversary. He got very sick and passed away November 3rd, 1994, on returning from his trip."
To find out more about Doug Kelley, please
visit https://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/kelpilgrim/, a site with the story of his parents by Keith Kelley a journey Keith took to follow his father's war-time footsteps.
At 19 in 1941, Daisy left her family and life in Crawley, Sussex, and headed to a pig farm to become a Land Army Girl. It was at a Land Army dance where she met Dalton Devine, a soldier of the Cameron Highlanders Machine Gun Unit. The two married and had a son, but sadly, Dalton died shortly after on August 14, 1944, in the Battle of the Falaise Gap in France.
Daisy headed to Canada in 1946 with her son, settling in Shawville and later marrying Dalton's brother Earl and having three more children..
On September 24, 2007, Daisy received a letter, certificate of appreciation, and a brooch for her "unsparing efforts" as a Women's Land Army Girl from the then Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown.
On November 5, 2008, the Shawville Equity ran a story about Daisy. She died January 6, 2020.
Born in Nottingham, England (home of Robin Hood), Marjorie was raised in the London suburb of Hammersmith. Her older brother, Vic, became a Navigator with the RAF during WWll. During the war, she worked with the Victoria League, to help students, and also the Knights of Columbus, and later with Canadian soldiers coming to England for the war effort.
A chance encounter occurred when brother Vic was on a bus trip to the Prairies where he was being sent to train Air Force Navigators. A sister of Marjorie's husband-to-be (Eleanor) was on the same bus; they talked, and a suggestion was made that Vic's sister, Marjorie and one of Eleanor's two brothers, should meet in England. So many plans were made, many letters written, plans were changed, new plans made again, to meet Eleanor's younger brother. Just before the long-awaited meeting, this brother became sick, so his older brother stepped in for him. By the time Marjorie and her husband-to- be, Willard, met, it was Valentine's Day!
Much letter-writing followed between Marjorie and Willard until the end of WWll. Willard had been overseas for about five years of the war, fighting in Italy, Sicily and Holland, and being seriously wounded in the Battle of Cassino in Italy; his family back home in rural New Brunswick were notified that he was "Missing in Action" But he was later found, and recovered from his wounds. At the end of the war, Willard wrote a Marriage Proposal to Marjorie, stating the date he would be in London. She never got the letter!!! He showed up, the wedding was arranged in a day, the church booked, and nearby family and friends attended.
Marjorie contracted rheumatic fever, and she could not go to Canada for another year. She sailed on the Queen Mary in 1946, and Willard met her ship in Halifax, after driving through the terrible Miramichi Fire, road blocks, smoke, and burning areas.
Marjorie never did see her parents again. She wrote almost daily, her mother dying first, and her father several years later. Her brother, Vic, took his own life, not able to live with the memories of war, his whole crew being killed on a mission he had to miss as he had been shot in a previous mission.
Jobs were scarce after WWll. Willard got jobs digging ditches on roads between NB and Maine, cooking at logging camps and as a farmhand. Marjorie moved around with him sometimes, and lived with her mother-in-law sometimes. He saved enough money to move to Moncton, NB where he took an Electrician's course, leading to careers at Canadian Gypsum and Westinghouse, and Marjorie, as a secretary, finally buying a home in Riverview, NB, where they lived for most of their lives; they had two children, Shelley, who became a Pharmacist, and Greg, an Engineer, and six grandchildren.
The WAR was rarely mentioned in the home. Remembrance Day was always solemn, with Marjorie in tears, and Willard having a drink. Amazing there were not more solemn days! Marjorie was always optimistic, seeing the best in everyone, and kept on smiling, never giving up! She was dearly loved by all who knew her!
This edited story was written by Marjorie MacDonald's daughter, Shelley.
KATHLEEN ELIZABETH WARD
Many of you may remember Margaret Kell Virany, a member of our congregation. She wrote two books, "A Book of Kells" and "Kathleen's Cariole RIde". Tom Virany recently gave me a copy of the latter, which contains the story of the courtship and marriage of Margaret's father John (Jack) Kell, a Canadian gunner on a trawler in the North Sea and English Channel in WWI, and her mother Kathleen Ward, of Portsmouth, England. The Ward family invited the 20-year-old Canadian sailor and others to their home for Christmas 1924.
On his return to Canada, Jack and Kathleen's sister Enid corresponded, until Enid married and moved to Australia. Kathleen then began writing to Jack and he responded. Jack would become one of the first thirteen ministers ordained in the newly formed United Church of Canada. Correspondence continued until Jack had the opportunity to visit England before taking up his job at Oxford House, northern Manitoba, as a missionary.
In 1927, Jack was able to once again visit the Ward family in England. The letters must have been magical, because Kathleen agreed to marry him and join him in his missionary work in Canada. Jack arrived October 25th, wed Kathleen November 2nd, and returned to Canada alone November 5th, not wanting to take his bride to northern Manitoba in winter, and Kathleen waited in England to prepare her trousseau.
Finally, on May 14th the following year, Kathleen and Jack were re-united when her ship arrived in Montreal. Margaret Virany wrote that her mother was "Canada's last WW1 warbride".
Wishing each of you a Happy Valentine's Day.
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Aylmer United Church
164 Rue Principale
Service and Children's Program are held
Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
Communion 1st Sunday of every Month
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