Valentine’s Day 2019: Land Girl GI Brides
Over 1 1/2 million American servicemen arrived in Britain from January 1942 onwards to help fight the war with Germany. Not surprisingly, there were frequent romances and relationships with local girls, many short-lived or casual. However, some romances led to engagement and even marriage. After the war ended in 1945, these ‘GI brides’, as they became known, eventually joined their new husbands in the USA and raised families there, most never seeing their parents and relatives here again.
Stuart Antrobus has provided photos of just three of the land girls who met young American servicemen who served with the American Army Air Force on nearby WW2 airfields in rural Bedfordshire and eventually married them. From just one station alone, Thurleigh airfield, ‘Station X’, there were 141 between American men and English women.
Peggy Davis & ‘Joe’ Albertson
Peggy served for two years at Manor Farm, Milton Ernest, and was based at the local WLA hostel. She met Walter ‘Joe’ Albertson in ‘The Swan, the local pub. He was a member of the ground crew servicing the America B-29 bombers which made daylight raids on Germany. He had come over to England on the Queen ElIzabeth liner with 17,300 other troops and arrived at Thurleigh on 6th September 1942.
The fell in love and were married at Christ Church, Luton on 14 July 1945. Peggy had to wait 8 months before she could join him in New York after the war ended. Having lived and raised a family in the USA, in 1967 they returned to live in England in Bedfordshire and then in Ely, Cambridgeshire.
In 2016, Peggy donated her wartime wedding dress to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, where it is now on display.
Eva Marriot & Houston Johnson
Eva worked as a land girl for the Crouch farm at Cleat Hill, Ravensden, Bedfordshire. She did milking and general farming, as well as work at the mushroom sheds at Ampthill. She met an American serviceman who was based at Thurleigh Airfield and was married in Bedford in 1943.
Eileen Tomlins & Andrew Pollack
Eileen, a Sharnbrook hostel, Bedfordshire, land girl met an American serviceman, Andrew from Pennsylvania. They married and moved to the USA. She was not able to return to England until her mother died in 1962.
Can you provide a photo and brief story of a land girl ‘GI bride’ from your county? If so, please get in touch.