A new home in America

This section describes GI Brides and captures their facinating stories.

Virtually all the British GI brides went to live in the USA after the war.

Not only was it 'a given' that the woman would go to the man’s country, but Britain was at the end of the war, both war torn and bankrupt.

The USA by contrast was booming and unaffected by the war.

A few returned sooner than expected because their husbands or fiancés had made it clear that they were not wanted when they arrived in the country, and a few brides might well have changed their minds before they even boarded ship for the trans-Atlantic voyage.

But the Land of the Free was to be their destination, and figures show that divorses were no different for GI brides than other sectors of the population at that time.......

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BARRY & DISTRICT NEWS

Friday October 26th, 1945

MARTIN – GRANT

The Wedding took place privately (by special licence) at Cardiff on Monday, October 22nd, between Corporal William Martin of Geneva, Ohio, USA, and Yvonne Valerie Grant, youngest daughter of Mr. Percy and the late Doris May Grant, and a grand-daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dure of Winston Road, Barry, who were both present. Best man (was) Private M Shearer, USA Forces...

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WESTERN MAIL

Wednesday May 17th, 1944

CONRAD – WILLIAMS

The enfogagement is announced between Lieutenant Ernest Upsher Conrad, junior, US Army, only son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Upsher-Conrad, Richmond, Virginia and Mair, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T D Williams, Tan-y-Fron, Barry, Glam.

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Wartime clothes rationing..........

During wartime Britain, rationing and shortages made it often hard to get new clothes.

By time the GIs started arriving in 1942 Britain had been at war for three years and this could often be seen in the dress of civilians.

The 'Short Guide to GREAT BRITAIN' issued to every GI posted to the country read: "....if British civilians look dowdy and badly dressed, it is not because they do not like good clothes or know how to wear them.

All clothing is rationed and the British know that they help war production by wearing an old suit or dress until it cannot be patched any longer. Old clothes are 'GOOD FORM'....."

The 'Short Guide to GREAT BRITAIN' was issued to every GI posted to the country

 

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The Queen Mary in New York Harbour

BARRY & DISTRICT NEWS

Dated: Friday July 5th, 1946


Diary of a Barry GI Bride's Journey to America

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dure of 14 Buttrills Walk, Barry, have received the following day-by-day diary from their grand-daughter, Yvonne, who sailed on May 6th to join her husband, Dale William Martin of Geneva, Ohio, U.S.A.

Monday – Well, I've finally started on my way. We left Tidworth Camp this morning, and were taken by bus to Southampton. We got on board at 4:30 pm and sailed at 5:00 pm. Just had tea. Gosh, you should see the way they look after us. Coloured American stewards serve us meals and to bring us what we need. It's just like you see in the pictures. There are a lot of American soldiers on board going home. I can have anything I wish to order – turkey, chicken, steak, ice cream, bananas etc. From the PX (Post Exchange), all kinds of chocolates, perfumes, and the like. My two friends are with me in the same cabin.

Tuesday – Another day in here, land no longer in sight. Its pretty rough, the boat is tossing and rolling. Lots of girls are sea-sick, but I feel OK up to now. I’m on the top deck most of the time as I like to watch the sea. Went to the pictures last night, then to bed. The American girls are real nice to us and do all they can to make us feel at home. Pouring with rain, but I slept well...

Wednesday – Weather still rough. I am up at 6am every day and take a walk on deck, then go to breakfast. Meal times are: breakfast 7.30-8.30, dinner 12.30-1.30, tea 5.30-6.30, supper 10.30-11. Both my friends have been sea-sick. I’m feeling fine...

Thursday – Been pretty busy today. Had to practice to put our life belts on; Line up on deck and when the officer said “abandon ship” gave us three minutes to do it. Lots of fun now, with plenty to amuse us – table tennis, pictures, music room, library. Days have gone very quickly. Sea air doing me a lot of good. What do you think of this, some of the girls are going over to get a divorce as they say that they are in love with Englishmen? They say it’s quickly done this way.

LONGING FOR LAND

Friday – Another day dawning and the weather is calm now. They tell us we will get to New York on Monday. We`re all getting excited. I wonder how I am going to like America? Missing you all now but feeling fine in myself.

Saturday – Weather good now, warm sunshine. Listening to gramophone records. Many girls here with children and one with twins and another little one. But they all look well and longing for land.

Sunday – Weather calm. About 100 American planes flew over the ship and the pilots waved to us. Must be getting near to the States. Don’t expect I’ll go to bed very early as I want to see everything.

Monday – Another day here. Had to go off our course as there’s a girl aboard very ill. Sailed towards Canada where a small tug met the ship and an iron lung was hauled up. I feel sorry for the poor girl. Doctor examined us today, looked into our throats. Voyage delayed.

HELPING IN SURGERY

Tuesday – Lovely weather now. Most of us in deck chairs. Was chatting with the doctor today and when I told him I had worked in a chemist shop he asked me if I’d like to help him in the surgery. I got on fine. Tomorrow I’m getting up early to get a glimpse of the “Statue of Liberty.”

Wednesday – Well at last we have arrived. Shall have to wait outside for a day, but I have seen the "Statue of Liberty" and it's 7 pm. Can see New Jersey at the back and what with the skyscrapers and the lights flashing in and out, cars running along, it's a grand sight.

Thursday – Landed at last and taken to the (train) station by taxi. We stopped at a sweet shop and when the girl behind the counter knew I had come from England they gave me a three lbs. box of lovely chocolates just to hear me talk. Dale met me in Geneva with the car. His brother and sister were with him. All's well, and I've had a grand voyage.

A LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

In a subsequent letter Mrs. Martin gave her impressions of life 'over there'. She wrote:

"Shopping is a pleasure, plenty to buy, no queuing or coupons. Just walk in and fill your basket with anything you like. Plenty of butter, lard, eggs, fruit and cream cakes of all kinds.

Prices are very reasonable in many things: ladies shoes 10 shillings to 15 shillings a pair and good at that; ladies real wool suits £3; furniture at all prices and so stylish.

Most of the people think a lot of the English and get a great kick of hearing us talk. It’s very hot here now; you could fry your eggs on the pavement....."