- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Jack Bland and Hermine Bland
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 27 January 2006
'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Alan Shippam of the BBC Radio Sheffield Action Desk on behalf of Jack Bland, and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'
In 1945, as the war was finishing, we were coming up to the Austrian border where we were held up, because the Russian Cossacks, who had been fighting on the German side, were at the border. They wanted assurance that they wouldn’t be handed back to the Russians. When they received word from London, they then let us through and we travelled up to the Graz area, to a place called Premstätten.
When we got there in Austria, there was supposedly a sixth month ban on speaking to civilians, but that didn’t happen, there was nothing else they could do. After the sixth months, they made arrangements to have dances and things with civilians coming to Grantz. When that happened, I met a girl, who came to the dance, and whom I thought was very nice. Although I didn’t dance, all I did was drink, but we met and started going together.
I applied to get married, but they didn’t want me to marry. I don’t know why. My friend who was going with a farmer’s daughter, got permission straight away, but my wife being only with her mother, her two sisters and a brother, they thought she wasn’t good enough for me, I think. But after a while I insisted; I made three attempts and three applications to marry her, and we finally got married in December 1946. Not long after that we had a child, which is why I was trying to get married previously.
I signed on for another six months in the forces so that I could still stay on in Austria, and in that period, our units broke up and I was transferred back to Clagenfert, to a works section. I went with the garrison engineer, Volkemark and it wasn’t long after that that the Captain and Volkemark went on de-mobs, and the major sent for me and said he thought I was quite capable of taking over the garrison engineer’s job, which I did.
My six months were then up, but you could only sign up for two years. Well I didn’t want to sign up for two years, all I was signing on for was waiting for my wife awaiting transport back to England and they used to wait for enough wives married to British soldiers to warrant a train to bring them back to England.
When I got word that that was happening, I said to the Major, that I would like to go two days before and he was very good and said, “Right, you can go.” So off I went back to England, went up and got my de-mob suit and things, came back down to where the wife was landing with the boat across the channel, picked her up and brought her back up to Sheffield.
From there, we had to stay at my mother’s house for approximately two years. Finally, we bought a house near Hunter’s Bar and by that time, I had carried on starting work in England obviously in the building trade. When I came home, my mother and her brother, who had fought in the First World War, my Uncle Bill (who still had some type of bullet in him, which they couldn’t get out, or it was too dangerous to, but had carried on as normal) felt I should never have married an Austrian girl. I think she said to my wife, “I don’t know why he’s picked on you, I had a lovely girl waiting for him,” which I never knew about but wouldn’t have taken on anyway if I had known.
It went along alright really though, it wasn’t too bad. I mean, she didn’t mind us living in their house for two years, until we found a house, which she gave me £500 towards buying, which was very good and then. She visited us all the time until she died.
We’ve now been married for 58 years and we’ve got three grown up children, eleven grandchildren, eight great children and we know there’ll be a lot more before so long, so we’ve finished up with a right family.
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