World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                           Joanne Lee 

The White Cliffs of Dover

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Joanne Lee
Location of story: Ostend and Dover
Unit name: 85 Group Communication Squadron.
Background to story: Civilian Force

                                                                A photo of myself and my daughter Shirley


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Alan Shippam of the BBC Radio Sheffield Action Desk on behalf of Joanne Lee.

I was leaving Ostend, leaving my father, my sister and my darling husband on my way to England, because my husband wasn’t going to be demobbed straight away, but it wasn’t going to be long before he joined me and he did want his son to be born in England, what’s more, to be born in Yorkshire, so that he could play for Yorkshire (cricket of course). So I left, waving for as long as I could, the three people standing there, saying goodbye to me. I felt somehow or other, that I was leaving my country as well as my family that I loved. I was pleased to go to England because that was a country that I really thought I would love to live in, where everyone spoke English all the time and where my little girl would be called Shirley (because of Shirley Temple would you believe?); absolute nonsense isn’t it, and so therefore, yes, I was very happy.

Oh, the white cliffs of Dover, my husband said, that will really be something, and it really felt like that to me. Whenever I went to Belgium after that I always wanted to see the white cliffs of Dover and yes, it was a wonderful feeling, and to me, they looked really shining white, so white that it was unbelievable. Now this might be just a young woman’s emotions, but I did feel very emotional.

I met my husband in 1945, and in no time at all, he decided that he was going to marry me, and I thought that was very romantic. Of course, he was a very handsome young man. He was in the Royal Signals, his billet was near the airport where I worked, which was the Gent airport and his job was actually in a place that had been used by the Nazis as well, because the airports had been used by the Germans when they occupied my country. I was working in 85 Group Communication Squadron and they had needed an interpreter translator, and having all the languages that were necessary, I applied and got the job.

I have been living in England now for quite a long time and I am very happy. So Belgium is somehow the place, my Country, and England is my Country and I feel that I am very patriotic about two countries, that’s Belgium and England and I’m proud of them both.