The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Simone Louise Kirton
Canadian War Bride

In wartime England in 1942, much against my mother's wishes I joined the A.T.S. and after basic training in Lancaster, was assigned to a War Office Selection Board as a clerk/stenographer in Maidstone, Kent. Later this unit was moved to the small village of Bearstead, Kent and from there to Brockham Park, a beautiful old mansion with massive grounds, which was a more suitable venue for selecting candidates for OCTU.

The No.1 Canadian Drilling Company was stationed nearby and invited the A.T.S. girlsto their weekly dance, where I met my husband. We saw each other almost every day and he spent several weekends at my home. We were married in 1943, shortly before he embarked for Italy with his unit.

Following his departure I transferred to Headquarters London District. While in London I located a Canadian War Brides Club which met at Ontario House in London and took an active part in it. I learned a lot about Canada and Canadian life and looked forward to my new life there. I spent a few days with my husband when he returned to England on his way back to Canada and discharge from the Army and was lucky enough to be able to travel to Canada in September of 1945, shortly after my discharge from the A.T.S. Arraignments were made for me to travel with a small group of war brides aboard the "Cavina" a converted 7000 ton banana boat (there were Ffyfes labels on it here and there). I had never entertained the idea of being seasick, having been involved in swimming and rowing, but as soon as the ship left the Clyde River and sailed into the ocean I succumbed. The crew members were very kind and suggested that fresh air would soon put me right so I paced the deck for a couple of hours in freezing weather before taking to my bunk again. It didn't cure my seasickness and all I got for the effort was a terrible cold.

The weather became very stormy and our little ship took 10 days to reach Halifax. On the last day I did manage to get to breakfast in the dining room and was thrilled to see a pilot come aboard from a small boat to guide us into the harbour. What a wonderful thrill it was to see Canada. I was first off that ship when we were allowed to disembark and the immigration procedure was over very quickly, no doubt due to the small group.

My destination was Toronto and most of us boarded a train heading West - and what a wonderful train it was - big, comfortable seats were converted to equally comfortable beds at night, fantastic meals and huge, well equipped washrooms unlike anything I had ever seen in English trains - and we were even allowed to get off the train and go to nearby shops at several stopping places - Truro and Montreal - where each war bride was accompanied by a Red Cross member. My Red Cross girl asked where I would like to go in Montreal as we had about an hour there. I just said, anywhere beyond the station so she took me for a short walk outside and hen treated me to an ice-cream soda - a real one! From Montreal to Toronto was another overnight trip and this time I shared a roomette - a real room for two with its own bathroom - a wonder to behold.

After a light breakfast the train pulled in to Toronto and at last, in a small room at the station, my husband was there to meet me - in civilian clothes - a joyous reunion indeed - but I still had a bad cold!

Shortly after, at the station, I met some of my new family and we were driven to meet more of them at my sister-in-law's home where I had a second breakfast. It was almost as if I was home again. Everyone was so kind and friendly.

There have been many memorable experiences along the way since landing here, good times and bad like most people, but we have three children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, the latest ones being twins born in January 2000.

There is so much more to tell about my life here, after 57 years of marriage, but I'd better leave room for others to tell their stories. I can only add that when I landed here I wanted to BE CANADIAN, and I am proud to be one - but I will always have an affection for my homeland too.

Of course, if you want any further details I'll do my best to provide them but I suspect you may have to edit this rather than add to it.

Thank you so much.

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