GI Brides

This section describes GI Brides and captures their facinating stories.

 

Passage to America

It was not easy for GI brides to find passage to the USA. There was considerable upset in the States that British women were getting passage on west-bound ships, while US serviceman were still serving in Europe.

Even so, to sail to America a G.I. bride needed:

  • A visa, passport, 2 copies of birth certificate, 2 copies of police record and marriage certificate;
  • A sworn statement from husband that he could support her, with details of salary;
  • Statement from husband's Commander supporting salary details;
  • £10 in cash and no more;
  • Statement from husband's family if he were not yet home that they were willing and able to house her;
  • Discharge papers if she had served in military;
  • Evidence that she would get a train ticket to final destination on disembarking.      

(Ref: PortCities Southampton website )

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Film of a GI Bride packing

 

GI Brides at Tidworth, on the long journey to the USA

GI Brides at Tidworth, on the long journey to the USA

 

 

What was a war bride?

Stamped on the equipment of US Army soldiers were the words: 'Government Issue', so natrually the US troops soon became known as GI’s. For the purpose of this section 'GI' refers to American servicemen who married British women,regardless of their branch of service.

Perhaps 'War Brides' would be more accurate – those marriages which came about as a result of the war.

GIs also married girls from other countries in which they were stationed, as portrayed in the movie 'Battle Cry' (1955), which traces a group of US Marines from boot-camp to the battlefields of Saipan, with one marine marrying a New Zealand war-widow...

Of course; it was not only GI`s who married British girls where they were stationed. Around 40,000 women married Canadians and left the UK for a new life across the pond.

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How many GI Brides were there?

It is estimated that around 70,000 British women married GIs, with around 700 of these coming from south Wales. Of these around 56 women from Barry and the surrounding area became war brides. In the Barry area, around 15 women were also engaged to GIs.

Some of these servicemen never returned from the battlefields of France.

Life wasn`t easy for these women, with many not seeing their husbands between when they embarked for France and after the war had finished, and their husbands had left the forces.

From January 1946 'Operation GI Bride' started shipping thousands of women across the atlantic, to start a new life in the USA. Initially these trans-Atlantic crossings were horrific; with one infamous trip resulting in the deaths of 18 babies, but things gradually improved.

With families now stretching across both sides of the Atlantic, a rapid post-war growth in trans-Atlantic travel ensued....

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Consent from Dad & Uncle Sam

There were two initial obstacles for the potential GI bride to overcome before she could tie the knot.

First there was the matter of the groom-to-be asking the father for the hand of his daughter. Of the 56 Barry GI Brides, Glenn Booker knows of at least 34 who had fathers to be asked.

One wonders how those conversations must have gone. Glenn says that his grandmother said no to one American who asked to marry her daughter!

The reasons for this reaction could be many.

Some families did not want their daughters to be seen as 'easy pickings', while others simply did not want their loved ones moving thousands of miles from home.

Uncle Sam's blessing

Then there was the problem of obtaining Uncle Sam’s blessing.

The US military authorities were concerned about GI’s being exploited by British women, so were wary about granting permission.

The American forces had to get written permission from their Commanding Officer at least two months in advance of the wedding.

The Commander’s decision would be based on interviewing the prospective bride, and occasionally senior officers disapproved of war marriages; making couples wait several months before granting an interview. Sometimes they just had the GI posted way.