The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Diary of Barbara Guley Braley from Reading, Berks, England

Mom’s Diary –
Getting ready to go
to the United States

Saturday April 20th
Everyone awake before 6 am. Had Breakfast 7.30. No one thought a great deal of the camp food. Pat didn’t eat anything all day except a few biscuits I had with me. We spent the rest of the day being “processed” — medical, etc. All very tired and went to sleep early.

Sunday April 21st
Out of bed early again Had a good washing day. Told in the afternoon we were leaving tomorrow. All very excited and pleased because we didn’t want any hanging about – particularly as life at camp wasn’t very likeable. Phoned Daddy in the morning and had a good weep Pat stayed in nursery for hours, and was as good as gold. All quiet and in bed by 9 pm.

Monday April 22nd
Up at 4 am Bags packed and breakfast at 5.30. Final instructions 6.15. Left Tidworth by train 8.15 arrived Southampton about 10 am. Very happy to see the size of the Alexander, but had a terrible shock when we saw out sleeping quarters. There were 40 bunks and no cots Disappointed and worried, but finally decided Pat would be OK on bottom bunk and me directly overhead. Had lunch at 12 noon, left Southampton 3.20 pm. Had a cry, waving goodbye to Yvonne’s folks, know I would have been worse if Daddy had been there. Everybody made go below and no one saw the last of England. I know I was disappointed. Pat very good all this time, and went to sleep well first night. I slept well too. Passed Argentina just off England on way back from States.

Tuesday April 23rd
Pat woke up 6 am and was sick, but ate a good breakfast. The food was wonderful on board. I felt good myself and ate plenty. The weather nice, but some of the girls beginning to feel sea-sick. I was OK until I went down to the compartment at 6 pm. Everybody was being ill — ten minutes later I was thoroughly sick. Forced myself to have a meal afterwards and from then on, was as confident as any sailor. Tuesday night we had a storm, but I slept and knew nothing of it.

Wednesday April 24th
Weather a little cold, but Yvonne, Peggy and I and the three kids found a nice covered spot on top deck and spent all day there. Pat slept nearly all day as well as all night. Sea air must agree with her We were all fine and normal again and eating like horses. Pat was eating more like her old self again after being very sick at breakfast time. Couldn’t get over all the fruit we could have, and so much meat and butter. Everything “quiet” in bunks by six thirty this evening.

Thursday April 25th
Up early again and really felt I had my sea legs. Had been sucking lemons since I had been on board. Perhaps it is the trick. Spent all day on top deck again and managed to get a little knitting done at last. The weather much warmer, and sea looked more inviting. Guessed Carl must have had the news of our coming by now. Trying to imagine all day how excited he would be. Pat went to sleep 6 pm, and after giving myself a manicure, got to sleep myself. “Granny came.”

Friday April 26th
Had breakfast at 7.30 and up on deck again at 8.45. Weather wonderfully warm, and see (sic) so smooth as a millpond. At lunch time, Pat finally decided she liked ice-cream. Got a lot of knitting done, and also went exploring all over the ship. Kept on getting lost. Pat didn’t sleep all day, so was very tired and went to sleep very early – 5.15 and didn’t wake up until 6.30 next morning. We are more than half way to the States by now.

Saturday April 27th
Weather fine, but a little windy. It was good up on deck though. Pat made pals with one of the stewards called Charlie, and kept following him all the time. Managed to get lots of knitting done. Began getting baggage tidied up in the evening and get a pile of washing done. Bed 8.30.

Sunday April 28th
Everyone awake early, 4.30 Weather beautiful and sea calm. Pat had about four hours sleep on deck during day. Yvonne told me about divorce. Managed to finish cardigan. Wanted to go to church service, but didn’t like idea of leaving Pat. Sea got very rough at dinner time, and felt a bit groggy in cabin after meal, so went straight to sleep at 6.15.

Monday April 29th
Another wonderful day, lots of sunshine. Pat had a friendly chat with the commander. I finished sweater, and felt good at having a new (unreadable) set to wear. Thought about washing hair in evening but decided to wait until we docked. News definite we would cock early Wednesday morning. Beginning to get really excited, and wondered how Carl was feeling right now. Got my last baggage tidied up during evening and finally got to bed at 9.30.

Tuesday April 30th
A bit later out of bed this morning 6 am. Managed to get washed and dressed before Pat woke up fore a change and got on much easier and quicker. Not such a nice day on deck, but not too cold. Weather became foggy at lunchtime and again at tea-time. Fog horns going all night and ship had to slow down. Getting excited about seeing New York tomorrow. Did some cleaning up and got to bed at 9.30.

Thank you Pat for sharing your mother's diary.

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