NOSTALGIA: Experiences of an Eastbourne war bride

Marks and Spencer in Eastbourne's Terminus Road was bombed just before Christmas 1942

Marks and Spencer in Eastbourne's Terminus Road was bombed just before Christmas 1942

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A story of an Eastbourne war bride has been revealed in a letter sent to the Eastbourne Local History Society.

Enid Granton, nee Metcalf, writes, “My husband was a fitter in the Royal Canadian Mechanical Engineers.

“I guess they fixed machines but I wasn’t that interested as I only saw him at weekends.

“There were about eight of them billeted in Tideswell Road, behind the old Marks and Spencer and he was there when the store got bombed at Christmas 1942. Luckily none of the men were injured.

“I was in the Women’s Land Army and stationed in Lewes.

“We first met at the railway station one Saturday afternoon when he asked me what kind of uniform I was wearing.

“I guess this was a standard pick-up line.

“He was posted away from Eastbourne in July 1943 and later went to Italy and so I didn’t see him for nearly two years.

“We got married at the Roman Catholic Church at the top end of Grove Road at the end of April 1945; it was a year before I travelled to Paris, Ontario.

“My husband died 27 years ago.

“The Eastbourne war brides used to meet in the Seaside Library and I found another girl travelling out to Canada on the same ship.

“We kept in touch until quite recently but suddenly I heard no more.

“Our little town of Paris, Ontario, had a population of 5,000 in those days and more than 25 war brides arrived here.

“Some of us would meet every week for tea and talk out our problems until we started families and then we would meet in the evenings.

“Some of the girls moved away and others died so there aren’t many left now.

“People in Paris were friendly and a lot originally came from Yorkshire. They came to work in the mills – three big ones that made socks, underwear and woollen fabrics.

“Of course, those are all gone now. I think that most of us have had a good life but we’re still very British.

“I miss the sea and the Sussex Downs. I’ve been lucky to travel back to my family many times so I know Eastbourne well.

“I worked at the Plummer Roddis store in Terminus Road before the war and then my family was evacuated from Bowood Avenue in 1940 and we landed up in Cheltenham.

“My father had to stay because he was Police Inspector Metcalf.

“When we came back to Eastbourne, I joined the Women’s Land Army.

“I remember the Devonshire Baths where I used to swim.

“My brother played water polo and later paced Victor Birkett when he was training for his Channel swim.

“So many memories – the walks across the Downs to Birling Gap and another way to Jevington.

“Parents never seemed to worry about us being away all day with a packed lunch – how times have changed.”

The above was submitted by Michael Ockenden of Eastbourne Local History Society.

For details of Eastbourne Local History Society, contact Diana Guthrie at dhguthrie@btinternet.com or by telephoning Eastbourne 419181.

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