The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Sylvia Lauderbaugh InterviewClick photo to hear and see live interview.

Sylvia Lauderbaugh (right) was a young British girl growing up in Liverpool, England, during the war. Little did she know she would end up marrying a "Yank."

She remembers how other English young women were fascinated by some of the thousands of "Yanks" who were living and training in England. Sylvia actually met her Yank, Louie Lauderbaugh, after the war ended. But the fascination was still there. "This is so much more freedom over here," she says. "It is wonderful for people."

When Louie was shipped back to the states in 1948, he proposed to Sylvia and sent for her. She left the seashore bustle of metropolitan Liverpool, survived a month on the stormy North Atlantic, and endured the long train ride to a small farm in the middle of the huge North American continent.

She admits she had never thought of herself as a farmer's wife, but soon learned how to do her share of the chores. She and Louie have been back to England for visits, but after 54 years, Sylvia has no desire to leave this rural community.

There is a song lyric that says, "How are you going to keep 'em down on the farm, once they've seen Paree?" During World War II millions of American service men and women saw Paris and London and Cairo and the Philippines and many other places around the world, and one might expect them to want to continue to explore the world. But, amazingly, the exact opposite happened. The vast majority of service people simply wanted to go home.

The sentiment was captured in a song that was actually written by George and Ira Gershwin in 1924 and recorded in 1937 by Billie Holiday, "The Man I Love." At the end of the song, she sings:

"We'll build a little home
Just meant for two
From which I'll never roam
Who would? Would you?
And so all else above
I'm waiting for ... The Man I Love."

For many, that song expressed the desire to simply get back to a normal life.

From Wessels Living History Farm - York, Nebraska

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