Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 076 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
  
REMEMBEFR THOSE WAR BRIDES?  
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​ We found the following article in the Legion Magazine, September 1972 edition. It provides some good background to a deeply human experience for many men and women as a result of World War II.

REMEMBEFR THOSE WAR BRIDES?
By Joyce Hibbert
At the end of World War II the new wives of thousands of Canadian servicemen poured lnto this country. Most of these
young women were from the British Isles. Reaching their new home had proven frustrating and exciting.

With the world-wide homeward movement of fighting men then In
full swing, the girls in most cases had had a long watt. Young love, cooling heels and red tape didn't mix too well. At war brides' clubs all over Britain they met and decided on tactics to try and get things moving faster. Today, no doubt they'd parade with placards.

Canada House ln London was besieged by girls clamouring to get to Canada. Patient and polite workers explained to them that early departures depended on some sort of point system - and each wife would be shipped off in due time. So they went home and waited at least a month before bothering Canada House again. Meanwhile more forms had to be filled, medical examinations passed and loads of letters written to placate impatient husbands already in Canada.

Another idea adopted was that each war bride should write to her local MP asking for help. Back would come a courteous note on British House of Commons wartime notepaper. The member would do his best but "you will be the first to admit that men who have been abroad four or five years have a higher priority."

Months passed, a year, and maybe a few more months but In time every girl's ship did come in. One such was the Cunard liner Scythia, a troopship turned brideship. To the nostalgic strains of a military band on the quay playing "Will ye no come back again" and "Auld Lang Syne" the Scythia steamed out of Liverpool on February 18th, 1946. On board she carried 800 brides and children.

After ploughing through the rough Irish Sea, the Scythia ran into an Atlantic storm and simultaneously developed turbo-feed trouble. All 
  
From: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
​this within twenty-four hours of leaving Liverpool. The London Daily Mail of February 22nd, 1946 read thus: "Her speed of 16 knots was halved. The heavy Atlantic rollers battered her with the full force of a winter gale. The war brides went down like ninepins; scores of girls were ill as the 26-year-old Scythia limped to Belfast....’’ While the ship underwent repairs, one girl was taken off on a stretcher, her long-awaited journey to Canada again postponed. So much sympathy was felt by the others that they collected enough money to pay for her passage by air.
Cunard Liner Scythia
Eleven days after leaving Liverpool the voyage ended in Halifax. When the war brides disembarked, most boarded the massive Canadian trains for destinations westward. Travelling under the watchful eyes and care of the Red Cross, they gorged themselves on the comparative abundance of food - and were duly presented with a Canadian Cook Book for British Brides.

Following the excitement of welcomes, showers and unrationed clothing sprees, these new Canadians were soon fused into the life of their adopted land. Most of them, during the next twenty years or so, were kept busy raising their own breed of Canadians. The brides of wartime were happy indeed to become peacetime wives and mothers. Today they can be found all across the country doing all manner of things. Scratch the surface of almost any occupation where women are employed and you're bound to turn up some of those erstwhile war brides.


While researching this vignette, we ran across a couple of excellent web sites devoted to this World War II phenomena.


Writer Elinor Florence’s web site deals with many subjects from that war. Her contribution, packed with many wonderful descriptions and pictures of war brides and spouses can be seen at:

http://elinorflorence.com/blog/wartime-weddings

A web site by the name of Wartime Canada is where we found the picture of the booklet ``Information For Wives of Soldiers – Coming from Overseas.’’ It provided good advice to Canada’s newest immigrants, but hardly explain all that the war brides were to encounter in Canada. It can be seen at:  


http://wartimecanada.ca/sites/default/files/documents/Wives%20of%20Soldiers_0.pdf


Cunard Liner Scythis postcard image:


https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5210858