World War I I – The Sailor and his War Bride

World War I I - The Sailor and his War Bride Remembrance Day Feature

Aboard one of the many official War Bride ships to leave England for Canada in 1946 was a pretty young English woman named Frances. With her  was her baby son Harold (later dubbed Little Harold). No more than a few months old, the baby and his mother were about to embark on the unknown, a new life Canada. Fran and her Canadian husband Harold Hall (Royal Canadian Navy) had met and married in England the year prior.

“During the Second World War and up until March, 1948, 43,454 War Brides and their 20,997 children arrived in Canada at Pier 21in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The experience of arriving by War Bride ship at Pier 21 and then boarding special War Bride trains bound for communities across Canada is one of the most compelling parts of any War Bride’s story.” For Frances, the long ride across Canada on a War Bride train to Vancouver, BC must certainly have been a big part of her own story.

Born in London in 1921, Fran was one of seven children born into in a close-knit English family. She was the first daughter to leave.  Husband Harold was born in Vancouver, BC to a rough and ready American man (who was a champion wrestler and showman) and his shy proper English wife. It would be safe to assume that the upbringing of Fran and Harold would have been very different. There were many obstacles to overcome in wartime marriages and under the stress and hardship of war, it would be even harder.  But they were young and faced the future together.

Harold and his brothers Harvey and Harry had moved to Lake Cowichan/Youbou in 1940 with their parents and little sister. The two older boys worked in the mill while the younger brother and sister, attended school in Lake Cowichan. At the outset of WW2, the three Hall brothers ‘joined up’ (enlisted) – Harold and Harry in the navy and older brother Harvey, the army. After completing medical training (to become SBA’s-sick berth attendants) Harry was assigned to a ship in the Atlantic while Harold was sent to the Pacific on the Corvette, Flower Class HMCS Vancouver (the 2nd of 3 of the same name). Built in Esquimalt, the Vancouver served with distinction on both coasts, including arduous and hazardous duty in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The corvettes (which included the Vancouver) were considered “tough little fighters” and very successful (German) U-boat hunters. They had many victories although 27 Corvettes were lost (or rendered useless). They were short and had a broad beam which allowed them to patrol in fierce weather while most other escort vessels could only concentrate on survival.

Harold’s ship travelled in convoy throughout the Pacific and Atlantic. Life on board for the lone medical personnel was hectic and chaotic (a definition of war?) with time passing quickly while continually engaged in trying to save the lives of the wounded.  It has been said that medical staff were always so busy they had no time to be scared.

At the end of the war, Harold was discharged and sent home to Canada to await the arrival of his wife and son. It was a joyful day indeed, when wives, many with children, were reunited with their husbands. The Hall family settled in Vancouver at first then moved to Honeymoon Bay. Harold worked in the local mills and built a house at the Bay for his family which now included son number two.

For whatever reason, the marriage began to falter. Back to Vancouver they went as by this time Fran’s mother and adult siblings had arrived in Vancouver. The marriage broke up soon after. The married life of the once happy couple, the sailor and his war bride had ended as did many others like it. The  loneliness, pain, sadness and memories of  war could not be overcome.

In 2006 Harold and his war bride Frances died within a few months of each other. The baby boy called Little Harold died in 2010.

Written in memory of  my dear Uncle Harold, by niece Harolyn, also known as Rolli. Research and photos Hazel Hall Beech

 

 

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Blue Moon Marquee from Duncan will be featured at the 2021 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 28. (Submitted)
Blue Moon Marquee to play Vancouver Jazz Festival

What’s coming up in the A&E scene

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

Grade 12 students Sophia Kazakoff and Catherine Yuan accept QMS’s Stigma Free Designation award from Stigma-Free Society president, Andrea Paquette. (Submitted)
Duncan’s QMS earns ‘Stigma-Free’ designation

“No school in the province has accomplished what QMS did in such a short period of time”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read