- Contributed by
- Warwickshire Libraries Heritage and Trading Standards
- People in story:
- Mrs Steele and family
- Location of story:
- Liverpool and Saskatchewan
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 June 2005
For Mrs Steele, Saskatchewan, 8 June 2005 (now returned to Coventry)
My story begins shortly after the war when I was 18 years old, in Coventry, when I met a handsome Canadian soldier. We were married at St Albans Church. Kenneth, my husband, returned to Canada in December 1945. For us to get to Canada, by then it was April 1946, we were issued with a train pass to Liverpool, where we were met by the Red Cross and taken to a large building to be deloused and checked for several diseases, also for vaccinations. This included my little, son, and I was expecting (another son).
We were eight days on the ship “Laetitia”, a troop ship turned into a hospital boat for war brides. We were met at Halifax, Nova Scotia, by the Red Cross. We were transported to trains which were to take us (in my case) to Regina, which took five days travelling all the time. No disposable nappies, nowhere to wash towelling ones no plastic bags to put them in … imagine after thirteen days. The train lines were surrounded by many building which appeared to me like shacks. People were very friendly, waving at the train. The train stopped along the way to off load some of the passengers, all war brides.
At some stops, some of the brides were not collected, the husbands did not turn up, in which case they were sent back to England! For four weeks we all stayed with my Mother in Law, then were allocated a house with no running water, no gas (only electricity). Water was about ten minutes walk away at a standpipe. Toilets were “nightsoil” collection.
That July, temperatures rose to 104F. In November 1946, Kenneth went into the DVA (Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs) hospital in Regina to have shrapnel removed. By then it was freezing, down to 40F of frost. Still carrying water for self and two children, on one occasion fell down in a snowdrift and the spilt water froze all over my clothes. Put the half bucket of water on the table and sat and cried. Could only think of “civilisation” in England.
Heating was a round cylindrical stove, with pipes to distribute the heat. One day I forgot to open these flues and there was a huge explosion. Two little white eyes in the pram, my son. The older boy was covered in soot. It took many days to clean up. Many of the every day conveniences in England were simply not present. Initially there was a “Welcome Waggon” with useful items we might miss, for sale, and to get us accustomed to the unfamiliar trade marks of shopping. A “joint” of beef would he the whole hindquarters of a cow (a joint would have been called a “roast”).
Huge mosquitoes were virulent in summer, about July to September. We used nets over the pram, and doors and windows were screened. Huge grasshoppers would swarm in summer. With Kenneth not being so well, in 1956 we returned to UK intending to go back to British Columbia. This has never happened, we have remained in England for nearly fifty years. Left us with lots of friends and memories in Canada, and many visits. A beautiful country, especially the Rockies.
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