Veteran Stories:
Doreen Violet “Dore” Lawrence (née Bardwell)

Army

  • Doreen Lawrence of the Women's Land Army at Dawners Farm, Birdham, England, 1944.

    Doreen Lawrence
  • Doreen Lawrence and George Byron Lawrence of the 5th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery at Chichester, England, on their wedding day, August 14, 1943. Doreen's sister Joy may be seen in the background.

    Doreen Lawrence
  • Doreen Lawrence's husband-to-be, George Byron Lawrence (extreme right in the top row), in a group portrait from a Royal Artillery Gun Position Officers' Assistants Course, Larkhill, England, 1941.

    Doreen Lawrence
  • Doreen Lawrence's husband-to-be, George Byron Lawrence, in surplus Great War uniform shortly after his enlistment in the Royal Canadian Artillery, September 1939.

    Doreen Lawrence
  • Doreen Lawrence, Fredericton, New Brunswick, July 27, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"Well, I was working in a factory and a plane came down on it. This was after I was married and my nerves were quite bad and by this time, because we’d gone through quite a few different things."

Transcript

Well, at the first of the Second World War, I was going to school, I was 13 years old. And they came around and asked us if - they were going to try to get all the children out of Britain and if we wanted to go to Canada or America. And I chose Canada. Not realizing that later on in life, I would be living here. But then, there was one of the ships was sunk - hit by torpedoes - so they decided to keep the children in England. It was in 1940, at the Battle of Britain, we often saw them fighting over the house. The German planes came and ours would go and fight them. I lived three miles from Tangmere, which was an air force base there. In the next village, there was a dance and quite a lot of them [servicemen] went there. But I guess when I met him; I met him at the place where he was billeted. I’d gone with this lady, she had to deliver something and I had a little red hat on that belonged to my sister and I wasn’t supposed to be wearing, when somebody snatched that hat off of my head. And this soldier was very kind; he went to look for it. It turned out that he was the one that took the hat and that was my future husband. My husband was G. Byron Lawrence and he was with the 5th Field Regiment [Royal Canadian Artillery], I think it’s the 93rd Battery but he joined up a week after war was declared in Canada and he was 18 years old at the time. He went in as a gunner and by the time he had finished after the war he was a major. Somebody was quite persistent. I was trying to hide, out of the way. I once went, I had - just with a friend, that’s all - went to the movies with this friend and in England, they have like the cheaper seats downstairs and upstairs in the balcony, according to where you sit is what you pay. And so this friend - and very young, but he was a Canadian - and he took me upstairs and I turned around and my future husband was sitting behind me; followed us there. I didn’t even know he was around, but anyway. So finally, we did and went to get married: in England you had to have permission from my mother of course, because I was underage [she was 17.5 years old]. And it had to be sent to Canada and it took three months, it had to be approved here and then it had to be posted before they could marry. Well, I was working in a factory and a plane came down on it. This was after I was married and my nerves were quite bad and by this time, because we’d gone through quite a few different things. And so the doctor said I was to get out in the open and stay out, he said, he didn’t give me any medication or anything and so that’s really why I went into the [Women’s] Land Army then. I loved it, I loved the open. But whenever I saw a plane coming or just flying low or anything, my stomach turned upside down. Even on that. It took me a long time to get over. Actually, the experience I had then, I was actually about 25 years really getting over it because it was pushed in the back of my mind and this is when the plane came down because had I have been - I wasn’t in the building at the time - had I have been in the building, I would have been killed as some others were. But nowadays, I mean, they go into places and get them to talk about things. They didn’t do that then. And so I would have been a lot better if they had have been able to talk about it at the time. Once when I was in… my brother-in-law, my husband’s brother, who was 11 years old, he came into the kitchen; I went to a very good family, to a farm. And he said, oh by the way, what happened when that plane came down? And I don’t know, I just, my mind just, I don’t know, I just didn’t know what to say or whatever. And my mother-in-law - it must have been the expressions on my face - took him out into the milk room and said, don’t ever ask her anything about the war again. But I think if they had let me talk about it then… but then as soon as they went, it went back out of my head and I didn’t think of it again until years later when I was in a friend’s house and there was a plane had come down somewhere and all of a sudden, I start telling her about this. And then realizing what I was saying, it just came out, I started crying. Of course, she felt bad but actually, she’d done me a favour. And after that, I could talk about it a little bit but it took quite a while for me to, to be able to, every time I mentioned it, I would start crying. But when I came to Canada, my husband’s people met me at the station and what I thought was it was so peaceful and quiet there on the farm. It just seemed to be so quiet to watch and peaceful there.
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