The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Journal Kept Aboard SS Lurline
on Trip to America

Kathleen (Feejan) Newell married Joseph Bertram in Brisbane, Australia on the 18th September 1943. Kathleen travelled from Australia to America onbroad the S.S. Lurline with her daughter Corinne

June, 1945
Boarded SS Lurline

Today, Sunday, we boarded the ship, of course there was great excitement and bustle, but things have gone without a hitch, considering the great numbers of girls and babies, there are also a great deal of wounded men, American nurses, refugees, and able soldiers returning home after years abroad. The Australian Red Cross were marvelous minding the babes. We had a lovely tea, turkey, sweetcorn and ice cream, typically American, we are very fortunate in our cabin, so far three adults and two children altogether a good day.

June 4th, Monday
Breakfast this morning, stewed plums, orange juice, and scrambled eggs. Lunch, sweet corn soup, veal, mixed vegetables, ice cream, and grape fruit. It is 3:15, the boat is due to leave any moment, its a very dull day and everyone, with the exception of the babes are very quiet, I am kept busy running up and down steps as Corinne is sleeping through all the commotion, sheís a good child, nothing upsets her routine. I now know my way about the ship, we are on D deck, dog deck, cabin 202, 6 bunks so far only 3 adults and 2 children (she made a correction her, C deck not D) There was a band. The last tunes played, ďNow is the TimeĒ and ďAuld Lang SyneĒ. The boat pulled out 4:15 Monday to the head of the river, and continued again at 2:30am Tuesday morning. We have our own toilet and shower, and wash hand basin, quite cosy compared with some who have 15 and 16 to a cabin June 5th Tuesday We are well and truly at sea today, Corinne is a darn nuisance, chasing all over the boat, at lunch we had a childís menu, an improvement, no sign of sea sickness yet, although Iíve been terrible harassed all day, with papers to fill out and C played up. A better finish today.

June 5th Tuesday
Corinne has gone to bed like a good baby. Had a good tea. I met a sentry from Wisconsin, knows New London. Funny thing, his wife came from Adelaide. Visited the hairdresser shop, had a lovely shampoo and massage. Have to go tomorrow to have it combed out, 1 dollar U.S. darn dear, but the massage made me feel good, the boat sure is rolling.

Wed. June 6th
Felt very sick most of the day. We had boat drill, it was quite interesting, Corinne and I put in an appearance at meals, but didnít eat much. Went back to have my hair set, the girl was away seasick. The clocks go on another hour tonight, thatís 2 hours we have 5 more to go. So far Iíve managed to fight off sea sickness, but oh boy, I donít relish my cabin in the hot weather, itís unbearable now. I spent 30 cents on sweets. Last night I gave the hair dresser 2 dollars and told him he owed me a quarter, he laughed and said you catch on quick, really itís quite simple. Not all Americans are gentle-men, coming up the stairs tonight, holding on the handrail, I had to give way to one, although I refused to move for several seconds. I feel contempt for such as they, for the sailors and stewards, I have the greatest admiration. My heart goes out to these boys for their wonderful kindness to the babies, and their patience with so many women all mussing up their ship. (I donít think I ever saw my Mum open a door, pull out her chair, or reach for her own coat if there was a man around. Even when my stepfather was in his cups, he would not think of not doing these things, if he did, he knew Mum would give him a look that would kill, and stand her ground, I remember her waiting for him to open the door once for almost ten minutes!! on this point she was very stubborn)

Thursday 7th
Well another day half over and still havenít been sick, although I couldnít say Iíve been in the pink, C & I have gone down for all meals, she is very pick and choose, but is holding her own. I had pork today, Corinne had soup, rice and ice cream. She is a very good girl today, we have a nice corner of the deck, and she sits with me looking at her books, the sea is roaring and the boat has a hectic roll. Had a good tea, goose and green peas, ice cream, had a game on the deck, and am now waiting for Corinne to go to sleep, the sea seems to be calmer.

Friday June 8th
Corinne was very sick last night. Had a nice sleep on deck, then she ate a little jello for tea, and kept it down. Stayed on deck till almost 10 oíclock pm. very rough, not feeling so good.

Saturday June 9th
Put in a terrible night, slept until 3am. and C. and I were both awakened by crying babies. The heat was unbearable, we laid on the floor, Corinne was very washed out this morning, but I brought her breakfast up top, she has brightened up a bit. I obtained a skipping rope this morning for exercise. A girl asked me was that how I kept my ďPerfect little figureĒ???
A for Able
B for Baker
C for Charlie
D for Dog
E for Easy
F for Frank
Notes on the SS Lurline
We are situated on C deck, I stated D. But was mistaken, there is Boat deck, A Deck, C.B.E. and F. Decks, making 7 decks with cabins to my knowledge, of course the crew, poor fellows are way below. Some of the cabins have 16 berths. These are large and airy. Others like ours are small without port holes, 6 berths and unbearable hot. We eat on D deck, The dining room is nice, the food plentiful, and I might say luxurious for war time. Of a morning we are called up at 6:30am with ďreveilleĒ hit the deck all hands on deck, on the double, needless to say we are up and showered before that, and upon deck. Breakfast at 7:30am. Lunch at 11:30am. Tea 5pm. We generally have fire drill, then 10:30 taps. All passage ways cleared, passengers in their cabins with lights out. The smokerís lamp is out Taps. There are fifteen husbands with their wives on board, Last night the sentry discovered 26 ďhusbandsĒ?? cuddling upon the boat deck, how come? There are said to be 600 war brides, 190 babes on board. The most to travel so far.

Second Saturday June 9th
Last night we crossed the dateline, so we have 2 Saturdays. Yesterday was quite an exciting day, we passed a ship, also some islands, had two rain storms and saw a lovely sunset. It was lovely watching the storm, we could see it gathering huge waves that looked like land in the distance, and then we passed right through it, my but it blew, people scattered in all directions. I had a fairly good night last night, Corinne was sick again, but apart from that she slept well. I put her in the top bunk, under the ventilator, so now her nights will be better.

Sunday June 10th
This morning C. and I went to mass. It was held on Deck. I wouldnít have missed it for anything. To see the ocean rolling past, the sky above and everyone kneeling in prayer (so many sailors too) It reminded me of olden times, when people were simple and good. Iím sure if more services were held in the open, people would get that closer to God feeling. Today has been a very good day, Corinne has been good and eaten her meals. Iím hoping she doesnít get sick tonight. I enjoyed my meals really felt better today than Iíve been all along.

Monday June 11th
Had a headache this morning. Corinne is very well again. We enjoyed all our meals. Passed the equator today, the weather is much better than I expected, although it is quite rough tonight. Funny how we no longer notice the motion of the boat. There are some very nice girls on the boat. We have arranged to go up on the boat deck tomorrow with our children. Iíve been wanting to take C up for a sunbath, but all of the officers and a lot of ? types of girls go up there, so I wouldnít go alone for fear of being thought the same of.

Tues. June 12th
Today was just another day. For a change I sat up on boat deck. I saw a few sights and got my nose sunburned, it is more peaceful up there, not so many children. Had a restless night. Babies were crying, and C. was restless. People are talking of what they will wear off the boat and having things pressed. Our relations in U.S. are to be notified today I heard. My but a ship is a marvelous place for rumors. The things that get about would fill two of these pages.

Wed. June 13th
Definitely a bad day today. I slept in. Corinne has bowl trouble. I lost my purse, 75cents, but worst of all, all my keys to my trunks and brief case. The ships joiner busted open my case, but the trunks will be the customs headache. I worried all day, and all I got was a bad headache. Corinne got better during the day, but was bad tempered most of the time. However she went to sleep like a good baby.

Thurs. June 14th
Very busy today, spent a lot of time waiting for the tailor to press my suit. Then more time spent in the PX. I wanted to get smokes for Joe. They are scarce I believe. Played poker tonight with our Australian money, but on condition we paid it back after. I won 7lb. Packed, did a bit of washing.

Friday June 15th
Slept in this morning. Havenít felt too good, bad headache. The boat is rocking a lot. It will continue to get rough now. did some more packing. Corinne is happier today although she has a nasty cold. I went to the evening movie, had to sit on the floor, but it was quite a change. Crime Doctor was the name. My watch has gone hay wire again.

Saturday June 16th
The times is drawing closer, we should reach San Francisco early Monday morning. We intend to be up at daybreak to catch our first glimpse of land after exactly 14 days of water. Everyone is getting excited, rushing around washing and setting hair. I donít feel excited, every thing seems so unreal to me. Besides Iím too anxious to be done with traveling. Maybe if Corinne were older and didnít go off her food and lose weight Iíd feel better, but as things are, going to a strange land and no one to meet me or care for me, I guess I feel to troubled to really enjoy myself. Still I know Iíll make out O.K., all things come to an end.

Sunday June 17th
Tonight should be our last night aboard the ďLurlineĒ. I has been a quiet uneventful day. I went to Mass this morning, it was held in the shipís library, as it was bleak and foggy outside, Corinne and I spent most of the time resting in the cabin, mostly on account of a nasty cold she has. We went up top about 4:30 to give her a swing in the nursery, couldnít see more than a yard beyond the ship because of dense fog. It broke the monotony a bit, the ship kept up an eternal honk honking. C. got excited, thought she was on a train. She started to wave her hand and say ta,ta. Tomorrow will be a busy day.

Monday June 18th
Up this morning at 4:30am. Saw a veritable fairy land. San Francisco all lit up. There will never be another day like this. It is now evening and we are in San Francisco, our hotel is far from the best because of the conference. Everything went smoothly, people were very helpful, the Red Cross cared for our children and took us off in their own busses to our hotels, I was lucky enough to room with a girl who has a friend of her husbandís to care for her, they have taken me along with them, (he has a car) to fix up about train reservations, shipping etc. It has been a wonderful break for me, not having to find my way about, there is a shop across the way where we can buy all meals, and tomorrow we are going shopping, I am likely to be here a day or two maybe more, I hope not. PS Great excitement, thereís a fire just a block away, a big one, this is a noisy city, no one takes any notice of the fire.

Mon. June 18th
Month later (must have been in San Francisco much longer that expected)
Tonight I have such a feeling of loneliness, an empty feeling, such as one can only feel when one is so far from friends and homeland. I guess it must be a touch of homesickness. It is very depressing. I wish Joe would come soon.

Tues. June 19th
I went shopping this morning and I just love America, I didnít get lost. Iím feeling so tickled to death with myself for finding my way about alone in the busiest city, S.F. at the moment is extra crowded on account of the conference, but people are so kind and helpful, a shop man told me we were a very welcome addition to this country. I spent a lot of money Iím afraid, but what I bought is very nice. I know Joe wonít growl. How I wish he were with me, what fun----. Went to Coil tower this morning after getting our luggage, a lovely view of San. F. and the bay.

Wed. June 20th
Had a busy day, applied for my ticket, got it after a lot of trouble, shopped for Corinne, bought her a cute little hat, Iíve left it in the hotel,darn it,had to catch the ferry at 7:30, a what with getting cabs, sending wires, checking out luggage, was a terrific rush. The train was late, had to stand for an hour, C. was tired. We have a Pullman lower berth it is just super C. went to sleep like a lamb, I watched the city lights and saw some nice scenery.

This is the last entry in my Motherís journal, on her way to New London, Wisconsin, and a new life.

Thank you Linda for sharing this with my viewers.

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