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The Immigration Story of Charlotte Baugh (German War Bride)

The Museum reviews and accepts donated personal or family memories and histories into its collection. As a learning institution, the accounts help us understand how individuals recollect, interpret, or construct meaning from lived experiences. The stories are not modified by Museum staff. The point of view expressed is that of the author and not that of the Museum.

Category: 
Culture : 
Country of Origin: 
Port of Arrival: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2017.1023.1

Story Text: 

"I was born 7 months premature, i.e. a 7 month term baby on July 23, 1919 after the First World War in Beuthen, Upper Silesia, Germany. My Jewish maternal grandmother Anna Weissenberg put me in a bread basket in a warm oven to keep me warm because in those days there were no incubators. I only weighed 2-1/2 lbs. (1 kg.) My father baptized me (Roman Catholic) right away because the doctor had told him there was not much chance of surviving. But I did survive."

Charlotte was studying nursing in Cologne in 1939 when the war broke out. Since she was half Jewish on her mother's side she was dismissed from the school and returned home to Beuthen. One of her aunts rented out rooms to visitors. One of these visitors was Mr. Webb who came to Germany yearly on business to the commercial fairs. He suggested to Charlotte's father that she return with him to England and stay with him and his wife so she could eventually study nursing. Charlotte worked as a nanny for the first few years and learned English. She eventually got a job in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Surrey.
"It all began with a blind date at Waterloo Station in London, England in 1943. I had met his friend Wilfrid Truscott at a dance and he was to introduce me to Don. (Wilf Truscott and Don were both in the Army and from the same town Mossomin, Sask.) But things did not work out too well. The reason for meeting Don was he wanted to join the paratroopers. The Army was teaching basic German to the paratroopers as they were to be dropped behind enemy lines. Don asked Wilf if he knew a girl who could speak German to help him with his lessons. A blind date was arranged - Don was waiting at Waterloo Station with a newspaper under his arm. Don asked me what I would like to do, so I told him I would like to go to a tea dance at the Regent Palace Hotel. Don said he could not dance but he went anyway. When we arrived at the dance Don proceeded to draw a map of Canada on the paper place mat and showed me where Saskatchewan was. That was our first date.

Since Don was stationed in Surrey and I was working in a TB sanatorium nearby, we saw each other frequently. But it was German only. He also wrote to me in German and I corrected his letters. After about 4 weeks he gave me a goodnight kiss and that was the end of the German lessons. He no longer wanted to join the paratroopers but joined the Canadian Artillery instead. By April (Easter) we were engaged and on Oct. 25, 1943 we were married.
When I said goodbye to my 16 year old brother Rudi back in Germany he gave me the following advice - when you get to England marry an Englishman and all your problems will be solved. I left Germany in May 1939 in order to take up nursing because being half Jewish I could not be a nurse because of Hitler.
Then came D-Day June 6, 1944 and Don landed on Juno beach in Normandy. It was a rough crossing and he was sea sick, so he dug himself a hole and waited until the nausea subsided and he felt better. What happened after that I cannot tell as he never talked about the war, except for two incidents. The first one when he milked a cow (being a farm boy from Saskatchewan) in the middle of the field because it not been milked for a while and gave the milk to his men. The second one was when one of his gunners was giving him a message and a shrapnel hit him and he was killed instantly.
Around October 15, 1944, I received a phone call from Don that he had just landed somewhere in the south of England. He was given a new job in Yorkshire at Ketterick camp instructing English officers who were scheduled to be sent to fight the Japanese army.
Although Don only spent four and a half months fighting in Europe, he managed to collect the Military Cross for bravery and was decorated by King George VI at Buckingham Palace in February 1945. It was very exciting to drive through the gates in a taxi. I was a bit disappointed that the Queen was not there, but of course that would not be her job to be present. The king was already ailing and died of lung cancer in February 1945.
Don was also promoted to Captain - 'the action of Captain Baugh contributed to the saving of many lives and a speedy capture of Fort de la Creche.' The dates of some of the battles would be between 15-23 September 1944.
We celebrated New Year's eve 1944 at the Savoy Hotel with champagne and Don got up to dance for the first and last time. England was still being heavily bombed by the Germans but on May 8, 1945 the war was over and we celebrated in Edinburgh. By that time I was 4 month pregnant with my first child - Rupert Douglas. After having visited the castle, I was tired and I wanted to sleep; however, three guys with bagpipes decided to play all night under our bedroom window so that ended my idea of a good nights sleep.
By the beginning of September we found a guest house which was called Links House because it was next to a golf course. I was awaiting the arrival of our first born on September 16, 1945 and Don was waiting to return to Canada on the next ship which was on October 15, 1945. I was to follow later along with the rest of the war brides and their babies. Around this time I heard from my older brother back in Germany who had been notified by the Red Cross that our parents had been killed in April 1945. We requested from the general in charge that I be sent as soon as possible together with our baby to join Don in Canada. Our request was granted and in the last week of February 1946 on board the first ship the Aquitania we set sail for Canada. After a very calm 5-day crossing we arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on March 3, 1946 with 1,100 other war brides and their babies to start the train trip to Montreal where Don was waiting for us.

He had already started his civil engineering course at McGill University in January 1946. Our second child a girl Helen Christine named after Don's mother was born in February 1947. Don concluded his course in May 1949 and I presented him with convocation baby Kenneth Gordon. By this time we had moved from St. Anne de Bellevue to Decarie Boulevard in Ville St-Laurent where in 1952 Donna was born. In September 1953 we bought a house in Beaconsfield. In April 1954 Don went on a business trip to Vancouver, B.C. but never returned. On April 8, 1954 (Don's mother's birthday) two planes collided in midair over Moose Jaw, Sask. at 10 a.m. He was buried next to his parents in his home town of Moosomin, Sask where he is now resting and waiting for me to join him, whenever that will be only the Good Lord knows who has been taking care of us all along.

I have been blessed with 8 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren"